Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams Is A Must-Read For All Young Women

Everyone has an ideal image of what they think their life should look like by a certain age. For Queenie Jenkins, she thought that by age 25 she’d be a successful journalist, engaged to her boyfriend, and as happy as she’s ever been. In reality, she was in the opposite place she had planned—the middle of a mental crisis.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams follows Queenie, a Jamaican-British woman living in London after a break-up with her long-time boyfriend (who’s white) and her downward spiral that results from this. The British humor will grab you immediately, and the chaotic messy situations between work and love will keep you till the story’s finale. Yes, another story about a millennial, but Queenie is different.

In short: the book is smart, funny, and dark. The character development is the most realistic and raw thing I’ve read in a long time. There is no downplaying the situations that Queenie goes through or what she’s feeling at any point. As Queenie narrates the story, we know her thoughts every step of the way, see her group texts with her friends, and listen in on the therapy sessions that she hides from her grandmother. In between trying to date again (and being hyper-sexualized by white men almost every step of the way), Queenie is having a major mental health crisis, too. Carty-Williams emphasizes that acknowledging mental health or going to therapy within the Black community, especially within the African community, has a major stigma. Something that Queenie has to push through to take care of herself.

To be honest, a lot of the book is like driving past a car accident that you can’t quite look away from. One bad decision after another just makes Queenie dig herself deeper into a hole that you’ve been rooting for her to climb out of since the first page. Her huge potential is crystal clear to the reader, but her self-worth is nonexistent to the character. That is a big lesson that can be taken away after reading, and what I believe a lot of people can apply to their own lives.

As a trigger warning, this book isn’t exactly a light read. In between the funny commentary (which we later realize is a defense mechanism), it’s an uncut version of this Black woman’s life. There’s sex, fetishization, housing issues, and high expectations, but there’s also a newfound appreciation for friendship and for herself.

“When you haven’t been represented in fiction, TV, film, advertising, you feel invisible. If you don’t see yourself, you feel like you don’t fit in. And I didn’t want people to feel anxious about feeling lonely or having casual sex or being irritating to their friends – because for loads of us that’s the reality,” Carty-Williams said in an interview with The Guardian.

The biggest takeaway from the book is that no one really has it together in their twenties, no matter how much you think you’re supposed to and no matter how much others try to portray themselves that way. Specifically for women of color, our twenties are a time to discover ourselves in ways that other people don’t have to think about. Experience things to know what not to do. Maybe not to the extent that Queenie has, but her story is a baseline example of not having to be alone when struggling. Queenie’s perspective on this is what makes this book brilliant.

You can find Queenie in most major bookstores like Barnes & Noble, but it’s most likely in your local bookstore too! Make sure to check there first to support small businesses.

–Amanda Davis, Content Creator

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