Queenie by Candice Carty- Williams
Born to a traditional Jamaican family, Queenie, the main character, is a first-generation Brit adulting in London. Her breakup with her long-term boyfriend sends her headlong into a quarter-life crisis.
Dealing with a breakup is difficult enough and her agony is only amplified by the complexities of being a young black woman attempting to live up to the expectations of society and uphold the standards she was raised to maintain. Undervalued at work like most young professionals Queenie finds herself in messy situations which she shares with her friends. Her three best friends represent differences in class and perspective. A school-yard bestie, another from university, and a close colleague. Through them, we learn about Queenie's journey, and how she is being perceived by those around her. As Queenie's judgment becomes more and more questionable with each chapter we begin to see where her friends' loyalties lie. Entertained by her antics at first, eventually concerns dissipate and Queenie is left with a few harsh critics in her lowest moments. At the beginning of the book, it's difficult to understand Queenie's recklessness. The writing feels scattered and purposeless. However, there's a moment in this book where Queenie is met with consequences that do not fit her "crime". At that moment, the author hits the nerve of most morally sound people and forces us to think about WHY Queenie is devolving. From that point forward, I tried to view Queenie's decisions and circumstances for what they were outside of my own beliefs. I became invested in the story and actively began to root for Queenie. Fully in her corner, I wanted to support her through what I began to understand was a mental health crisis. I continued to read on hoping Candice Carty- Williams would bring this book full circle and leave the reader with an UNDENIABLE education on the additional struggles young black women face in their personal, professional, and romantic lives. And she did it! Considering the way the book begins, this is an amazing feat. I was stunned. I wanted it to happen, but I want plenty of things to happen. It doesn't always work out. The author delivers you can't help but do a 180. Black lives matter even if Queenie doesn't date black men. Queenie's life matters. Mental health matters. Fairness matters. Side Note: I would have loved to read about her adventures with black men. It may have been a missed opportunity in so many ways but I won't discuss them here.
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