⚠️ It’s important to note there are a few topics addressed in Queenie which may trigger some people, which I’ll list below ⚠️:
Sexual violence, mental health, miscarriage, childhood trauma, graphic sex, race.
Queenie is the third book I’ve read as part of the Books with Brooke Book Club, organised by the lovely Whispering Woman, having missed out on last months book due to working from home and watching too much on Disney+. The book follows twenty-something Queenie as she navigates her way through shifting cultures and toxic relationships.
After hearing people rave about this book since its release, I knew I had to read it and – honestly – I’m glad I did.
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.
What can I say about Queenie? Though I’ve seen plenty of people – book bloggers and non-bloggers alike – rave about this book, I went into it completely blind. I was captivated by the simple, pink cover and the idea that this book was basically “black Bridget Jones” was something that I couldn’t get out of my head.
Immediately when the reader is introduced to Queenie, we see a woman who is funny, a bit spiky but also troubled – by both things in the present (her break-up, her miscarriage, having her life “together”) and the past (the abuse she and her mother suffered from her partner). Though there are glimmers of the awkward, hilarious Jones-esque heroine in Queenie, she is so much more than that – so I urge anyone who goes into this book with the impression this’ll be a funny, whimsical British Chic-lit to approach it with a bit of caution.
I had a love hate relationship with Queenie as a character. On one hand, I loved how she stood up for herself in certain scenarios, the way she interacted with her friends (the group chat sections of the books were hilarious, at times) and I think the moments with her friends and family are the moments where the novel really shines. On the other hand, I really disliked some of the decisions she made in the novel and – though it didn’t affect my reading of Queenie – I just wanted to reach into the book, grab her and shake her by the shoulders at times!
Carty-Williams really has a talent for taking us from light hearted moments to more bleak, hard-hitting ones without much warning. Though I did only start reading this recently, once I got started on this one, it was almost impossible to put down.
Despite the light hearted moments, the quick wit of Queenie and most of the people she encounters, there’s no denying this book isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The book tackles racism, sexism, mental health issues, miscarriage and other things that are as difficult to read as they must be to go through. It did make the book difficult to read at times but I think more books need to show reality – and the fact that reality isn’t always perfect.
Ultimately, Queenie is a great novel. Though I think some people’s comments have led it to be marketed wrong, it is a novel full of whit, warmth and the worries and woes that a lot of people go through in modern life. It has definitely opened my eyes, that’s for sure.
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Fancy seeing what else I’ve read as part of this book club?