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.
Author: Candice Carty-Williams | Publisher: Orion Publishing
Alright, y'all. I have complicated feelings about this book. It was well written, and super important, and said a lot of things very much worth hearing about race and mental health. But I — a type-A who compulsively tries to fix problems everywhere I see them — was not built to enjoy reading it.
Queenie is a millennial in her first job, an entry-level magazine editor in London. When the story starts, she's just started a break with her long-term boyfriend. We get the sense that she is a lot to handle and very unwilling to let others in. She's outwardly unapologetic about this, which pushes people away even more, but inwardly she feels halfway regret. This became too much for Tom, and he asked her to move out.
Now she has to figure out who she is and hope that he will come back. But she can't quite find herself between all the destructive decisions she knows she shouldn't make, but somehow does anyway. She's got a small group of girls who love and support her, and they're trying their best to help steer her in a healthy direction while allowing her to make her own choices.
Her depression and anxiety bloom out of control, which is when we get more insight into the racial and family dynamics that are also shaping her journey. She has to find the strength and resolve to pick herself back up and become the person she knows she can be.
As I read the book — which, by the way, is told very creatively with texts, emails, etc. thrown in there — I just felt more and more anxious. Queenie was spiraling, but there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Everything she was working toward was not going to be good for her. I finished the book with great relief.
Still, I admire the author and the story, because it's brave and important. Somehow the writing was simultaneously light and funny while also being heavy and heart-wrenching.
Worthy of your time, for sure. But be prepared for discomfort.