Queenie

Synopsis – Goodreads

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, 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 bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world. 

Home. This book felt so much like home for me and I held onto that feeling throughout the story. As a first generation Jamaican-American, this book reminded me of some of my favorite memories growing up as a child; spending weekends with my grandmother, Sunday family dinners, visiting the Caribbean bakery with my dad. The list goes on and on.

Queenie Jenkins just so happens to be the same age as I am, 25 turning 26 years old this year (boy does time run fast) and for the first half of the book I identified so well with her, I was convinced the author had some sort of personal knowledge about my own life.

So lets get into it. The first half of the book was great. We have an introduction to the multiple facets of Queenie’s life; her family, her friends, her job/career and her relationship. But one of the key themes of the story and what really hit home to me, was the pure representation of Black women who deal with terror and trauma and who haven’t been given the proper tools to deal with them. Instead we’re meant to shrug it off and keep going.

We’re introduced to Tom, her boyfriend who three years in, has second thoughts about their relationship and is asking for a break. “A BREAK” if you know what I’m saying. And so she’s forced to move out of their shared flat (apartment) and into a bedroom of a shared house. This is when Alice or rather Queenie falls down the rabbit hole. We watch as her life begins to crumble and as she lives and re-lives trauma from her past.

In the second half of the book I wasn’t a big fan of Queenie. In fact, she’d become quite annoying and I found her actions to be completely juvenile.

I did appreciate however the discussion of mental health and how oftentimes, in Caribbean households you’re viewed to be weak if you choose seek out help. Even though it’s clear you needed. I also enjoyed reading the black experience outside of the U.S. and in the U.K. It opened my eyes in a way to understand that across the globe we feel the same and fight the same.

What I appreciated most about this book though as aforementioned, is that overall it felt like home for me. From the inclusion of patois to the hilariously strict family members and for the first time in a long time I honestly saw all parts of myself in a book.

I’d recommend it to those of us who are in our mid-twenties and still feel lost in this world. And also to people who come from a marginalized background, in every capacity, where there voices aren’t always heard.

Overall, I liked the story, characters, plot development and writing style.

Rating: Three Palm Leaves