This novel is one of the books that I received from Bonnie for the Cannonball Read Book Exchange. One thing to know is that I had the hard cover copy of the book checked out from my community college library (which has an amazing collection of new fiction with few folks on the waitlist) for an embarrassingly long time—since maybe July (just kept renewing it . . .). Just when I was starting to get threatening e-mails from circulation mentioned the replacement cost of the hardcover, I got a package in the mail from Amazon. Whew!
The other thing to know is that this novel is good—really good. Though Queenie shares some surface characteristics with Bridget Jones—she’s a young woman, who lives in London and makes some cringeworthy choices—this novel is much more raw and real both in its humor and in its exploration of what it’s like to be a young woman of Jamaican descent living and working in white spaces.
Queenie’s life has hit a rough patch. Her relationship with her white boyfriend, Tom, is on a hiatus because Tom says he needs space to think and now she has to find another place to live. She recently had a miscarriage and she didn’t even know she was pregnant. Queenie is also having trouble focusing on her job and worries that she might get fired. However, at least she can rely on her friends—Darcy, Kyazike, and Cassandra—all whom she has recently put on a group chat even though they don’t know each other.
Queenie both needs and pushes the boundaries of these friendships as her life unravels—causing her to make questionable relationship decisions and to relive but not fully process trauma from past experiences. This sounds dark and depressing but Candice Carty-Williams does an amazing job of making you alternately laugh at loud and hurt for what Queenie is going through. As a reader, you don’t know whether you want to shake Queenie and tell her (a la Cher), “Snap out of it!” or give her a big giant hug and that to me is a sign that a novelist is getting it right.