“Queenie” Reviewed

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Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Fiction
Released: March 19, 2019
Purchase: Bookshop / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

Review:

Towards the beginning of this book, I was not a fan. Right off the bat, Queenie talks incessantly about Tom, her ex-boyfriend. They were on a break – a three month break, to be exact – and she was miserable without him. Everything reminded her of him, and she was feeling as lonely as ever. To fill that void, Queenie makes bad decision after another, mostly in the form of sex with men whose intentions are so … wrong. It made me angry that there were even guys like this out in the world, but it made me even more frustrated at Queenie for letting this happen to her.

But this feeling of mine, I suppose, is a huge reason as to why mental health is such an important topic. People cope with trauma in different ways. Who am I to judge how they deal with these problems (even though having unprotected sex with various men in a very short period can have lifelong consequence, Queenie! *breaths deeply*)? Queenie, a Jamaican British woman in her mid-twenties, finds hers in a way that she felt she could control – through sex. So a bit of warning: while it is not too graphic, there are several scenes of it, with a couple of them being a bit abusive.

Another layer to add to her problems is the layer of race. Due to her past, Queenie seems to exclusively date non-black men. Although this might have solved one of the issues, it also brought on other issues of interracial dating – how do the family of the guys she’s dating act towards her? what about the fetishization of other races?

On Goodreads, Queenie is tagged as a chick-lit. And while it is written in a light-hearted and funny ways, the topics at hand would not be what I considered light topics. But considering the political tensions of today’s world, this book fits so well to help translate some of the woes that black females have to go through, at the same time adding a touch of humor.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I would give Queenie 3.5 stars (the star rating system above does not allow for .5 increments, unfortunately). I think the author Candice Carty-Williams has written a book that has shed a light towards what being in an interracial relationship today can look like. Sure, it’s different than it was back in the ’50s and it’s a lot more acceptable. But to what degree? Are the comments and actions made in public different to those made in the comforts of their home or behind closed doors? And then, stepping away from the issue of intimate relationships, how does a young black woman deal with her everyday problems compared to her friends? her neighbors? the older generation in her own family?

Although a bit rocky in the beginning, Queenie became an enjoyable read, and finished quite strong.

Purchase Book:
Bookshop / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

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