My rating 4.5/5 stars
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman, 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 very bad job of affirming self-worth.
I think by describing this book as being similar to the Bridget Jones series is doing it a disservice. Although I can see why it was labelled as such, to me this book was so much more and more complex than any of the Bridget Jones novels and really had no resemblance.
Queenie is a lovable character and I loved her very British sense of humour. The start of the book was hilarious and there were points that I was laughing out loud. As the novel progressed Queenie became more of a real character and it was clear that she was more complex than I had first realised. Queenie battles with her mental health constantly and at parts the book can go into some dark places but this just made me appreciate it more. For example, Queenie brushes off most of the horrible things that happen to her but this contrasts with the language used to describe the acts. In particular, the sex scenes that Queenie originally laughs about, yet they are raw and brutal and display to the reader the issues with her coping mechanisms.
I only realised the impact of the book once I had finished it. The start of the book was lighthearted and it was only once Queenie herself had a breakdown and moment of realisation that the impact of what she was going through hit me. Throughout the book I just wanted to shake Queenie because you could see that her actions weren’t coming from a great place. I feel that this may be the point of the novel, the author does a great job of not condoning or sugar-coating Queenie’s actions and presenting them as they are.
The friendship between the characters I thought was really well written. Each of the women had different characteristics and brought different elements to Queenie’s life, making them the perfect support system. The group chat visual element in the novel worked really well and helped for being able to understand their friendships and it also helped to move the plot along.
Candice Carty-Williams explores dating, casual sex, mental health, racism through the eyes of a black British woman. As a white woman I feel that it is not my place to comment on how well the issue of race was displayed in the novel but I was glad that it was a strong feature in the novel and that the topic was visited numerous times.
One of my favourite things about this novel was that Queenie was not swept off her feet by a random male character and because of this all her problems were miraculously fixed. As much as I am a fan of romance novels, I was happy that Queenie had no “Prince Charming”. It made her journey authentic and relatable and proved that having a significant other in your life will not fix everything, that sometimes it has to come from you.
I would definitely recommend reading this novel. It starts as humorous and lighthearted but don’t be fooled, this novel can go to some dark places and does not shy away from tough subjects like mental health. It is more than just a ‘black Bridget Jones’, and should not hide behind this label, it is an amazing book in its own right.
Do you have a suggestion for the next book to add to my bookshelf? Let me know in comments.