I'm a huge fan of NPR and I listen most often while driving from Albany to my hometown; a four hour drive. I was lucky last week when one of their broadcasters was discussing several books they deemed the best of 2019. Queenie, by Candace Carty-Williams, is one of those books.
I pulled over to make a quick list of the titles they mentioned, and Queenie was at the top.
Queenie is a 25-year-old journalist living in London and she's attempting to get over a bad break up. I've spent a lot of time in London so I'm already interested in any book centered around the city.
Here's the thing though, while I may have experienced London in all its glory, I certainly haven't experienced it as a black woman, a millennial, or as a woman from a very conservative family.
Queenie makes some bad decisions - really bad - but I found that to be one of the reasons I liked the book, and her, so much. As a woman it felt relatable because who the hell knows what they're doing at 25? I certainly didn't and I can't even count the number of bad decisions I made at that age. She encounters men who are emotionally unavailable, ignores her duties and responsibilities as a journalist, and struggles with her emotional health. Though she has a small friend group that tries to support her, her family does their best in their own way. Queenie is of Jamaican decent and I learned mental health is still a taboo subject in the culture.
I dug a bit deep to find comments from black women and found the reviews quite mixed. My experiences and perceptions are limited, so I wanted to provide you with other views:
"As corny and cliché as this sounds, this was the first time I've ever read a book and felt SEEN, specifically as an educated, Caribbean young woman with conservative grandparents and religious family, one who grew up up in a Western white world full of both active and passive racial micro-aggressions/outright aggressions. I felt like I was a blend of all the characters and I think that was the point, beautifully made. Buy this book for yourself, for your grandchildren, for your daughter...but whatever you do, buy it. It's a book I truly hold dear." - Anonymous Amazon Reader
As with a lot of books I've been reading lately, I felt entertained and educated at the same time. For that, I'm grateful to author Carty-Williams. Keep in mind this is a novel, but there are threads of truth woven throughout. It felt honest to me in all aspects to which I could relate, and for that I highly recommend it.