Candice Carty-Williams| March 2019
Queenie is definitely a character I needed to live with for a bit. When distance from her story didn’t help, I researched the author and caught an interview she did explaining her perspective with Queenie and it endeared me to the character. The author readily admits Queenie’s point of view is problematic and intentionally so. She says the story is a description of what she thinks things would look like if she allowed her life and emotions to “get out of hand”. I can feel that. In the book, we get a glimpse of almost every issue facing black millennials x10: Interracial relationships, generational curses of mental, physical and financial abuse, and the burden of attempting to free yourself from them in the confines of familial obligation, casual sex, managing work and relationships, even cost of living and finding reasonable housing. A definite must read with a strong suggestion for anyone over the age of 40 to pack patience. Your first impression will be this bitch is dumb dumb. Not, can’t read a book dumb, but, read the book and can’t tell you what it was about dumb. 🤦🏾♀️ However, after closer inspection, she’s buckling under the burden of actions/atrocities committed by ones that came before her. Our ancestors are real careful to hand down burdens, boundaries or generational curses but, rarely, solutions. She’s not dumb, she’s stuck. Maybe ignorant. Lacking emotional intelligence and not raised to believe in herself or her own moral compass so she makes moves based on what others think. A recipe for defeat.
Queenie is a young black woman, with a Caribbean legacy, british born, self describes as an ‘Oreo’ because she speaks ‘proper’ English, has tons of poor habits stemming from childhood abandonment and verbal abuse, finds herself in a financial and mental crisis after a difficult breakup with her white boyfriend (surely, you saw that coming?). Queenie, thinking she and ol’boy are on a break, begins to date…in the loosest since of the term. It’s sex. Blatantly unprotected and frankly, violent in some cases. (Why, sis?🤦🏾♀️) Anyway, Queenie eventually reaches her lowest point after finally understanding her and ol’boy are NOT getting back together, discovering the real identity of one of her lovers, nearly loosing her job and having to move back into her Caribbean grandparents home who are dead set against her getting any professional help in the name of ‘black people don’t do that’. 😶😞🤦🏾♀️
As obtuse as Queenie can be, she isn’t unlovable. Her friends: the rich one, the ride or die old schoolmate, the new co-worker and the sincere peacemaker, round out the cast of characters and along with key family members add depth to Queenie and help tell her story in a compassionate way that I don’t think we could experience through the main character. Most of them are incredibly loyal to her, again making you take a second look at this incredibly broken girl before writing her off.
As for the story, yes, I’ve shared some of the outcomes but, it’s the journey that matters. Learning how Queenie got to be, watching her life unravel, then watching her fighting for her life and the space to do it the way she wants, is the real story here. Read this book to be apart of that story. There’s a good chance you’ve found yourself in some of Queenies’ situations.
First novel hiccup: Queenie and friends allude to Queenies, not just preference, but seemingly inability to date black men, several times. But, the issue is never explored. Why can’t you date men that look like you? Yet, the book repeatedly points to her being objectified by the white men she encounters. 🤷🏾♀️ A millennials perspective on dating as a black woman? We could assume it’s related to some childhood trauma but, it’s never worked out and thats annoying. It could also make a good, albeit complicated, second novel with the character. Tough content, but I’d be here for it.
In closing, more than love your girl children, protect them, teach them. Allow them to have intuition and faith, not forcing them to only believe what they see. Demonstrate to them what is acceptable love and respect so they don’t find themselves depressed and distressed, searching for it on the floor of the men’s restroom in her workplace. 😞 The self respect you instill will allow her to make the responsible choices she needs to make for herself, regardless of the negative voices of those around her and, more importantly, inside her. I pray for Queenie and all young girls like her. She is why I’m unapologetically, whatever me I decide to be, every day. I pray she sees me and knows, she too can do this or whatever she desires. ✅ #GoodBook 22 of 36.