A lot of the other mentions I have seen for this book compares it to Bridget Jones’s Diary. I can see why the comparison is made, and for about the first quarter I can almost see it, but this book really is something else entirely and the comparison is overall pretty shallow and off base.
Queenie is a young black woman in London. She is working for a magazine and trying to find her voice as a writer and work her way off the “Events” page. Her life is pretty much falling apart and she’s having a hard time with it. Her boyfriend of two years has dumped her and thanks to this she is homeless, trying to find a place she can afford on her not great salary while dealing with the breakup and trying to keep her head up at work is a lot. Her mom is more or less out of the picture, and her abusive step-father didn’t really help her learn a while lot of healthy coping mechanisms while growing up. She does have her strong, loving grandparents looking out for her, but Queenie wants to be an adult and figure this out on her own.
This is a really good book. It flows the way this things often do in real life- at first it seems like a rough patch, but one that is navigable in a this-too-shall-pass way. Then Queenie finds that she really can’t quite figure things out, and the spiral begins. Man, I haven’t been in her exact boat but even when I saw her making horrible, horrible decisions I totally understood because I’ve been there. I felt so strongly for her through the whole thing. The author really captured the way depression and our past trauma can really hamstring us, even when we are really trying to not screw things up.
The author also does an amazing job of spotlighting how race and class contributes to this situation as well. Queenie is a black woman, and she cares about the issues facing black people in England and the rest of the world. She wants to write about police brutality and Black Lives Matter, but her boss keeps telling her it isn’t palatable enough for their magazine readers. She goes to visit her grandparents, and all the businesses that had been owned by the Jamaican immigrants that her grandmother took her to as a child have been forced out by gentrification. Men on dating apps fetishize her color and her shape. These are real problems and the author does not shy away from them or put them in the background.
All of this colors Queenie’s journey through the shit and out the other side. This is a really great book, and one that definitely recommend.