Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Novel, Psychological Fiction
Publication Year: 2019
Meet Queenie Jenkins, a 25 year old Jamaican British woman straddling two cultures and belonging fully to none. She lives in London and works at the Daily Read- a National Newspaper – where she is constantly forced to compare herself with her white peers.
Queenie is struggling in every sense of the word. Her relationship is falling apart, her life shredding into many pieces. Amidst all of this, she seeks the most basic things of all: love, care, and a strong awareness of who she really is.
- It might take some time to affirm one’s self-worth.
- Racial segregation can exist in subtle ways.
- Our voices matter. We need to learn to stand up for ourselves.
- Black lives matter.
- True friends are priceless.
- Embrace your blackness.
- The little things we say, the comments we make might take a toll on people than we thought it would.
- Grow through your pain.
Full Review (Spoilers beyond this point)
Queenie, the debut novel by Candice Carty-Williams features moving themes that accurately depict the life of a black British woman.
The novel is set in South London and follows the main character, Queenie, a 25-year-old Jamaican British.
Queenie is a journalist, who is weighed down by anxiety. So many negatives taint her life: her boyfriend, Tom, has asked her to move out, she gets a medical report that breaks her. She carries two cultures within her and constantly struggles to define her own identity. At some point, she describes herself as ‘alternative’- not white enough to be white; not black enough for black.
When Tom asks to live away from her for 3 months, she moves out, hoping that at the end of the breather, things will get back to normal. Soon enough, she realized how much of a fool’s fantasy it was.
While all of this goes down, Queenie wrestles with the memories of her childhood. Her mother, drunk in love with an abusive lover left her to live alone at 11.
When she was in school, she was accused of being black on the outside but white on the inside. All of this blends with the event that unfolded at Tom’s place, where she had to deal with sly comments about her body, inappropriate yet somewhat acceptable to the white spectators.
Her situation pushes her to take comfort in the wrong places- sexcapades with different kinds of people: a junior doctor, a cabbie, her office colleague, who turned out to be one of the worst hook-ups of all.
With the help of her close friends, Darcy and Kyazike, Queenie finds her feet and gets the start to a happy ending she so much deserves.
Amidst the streams of worries and personal anxieties that cramps her main character’s life, Candice Carty-Williams points us to surrounding social and political issues that black people experience: The subtle tones of racism and gentrification.
“You cannot, you must not, brutalize the black body, but that is what we are seeing. It is all we are seeing. That is the message given. And it is traumatizing. Our people continue to suffer. The trauma is too heavy for us to bear.”
Candice steers our minds to these important and timely conversations. She opens our eyes to see the brutalities for that they are. She reminds us that black lives matter.
All in all, she has crafted an unforgettable book that I hope everyone will read.
Queenie is a modern representation- raw and honest- of what a young woman may need to filter out on her way to finding the love and power that flows within her.
It was great to see the world through Queenie’s eyes.