Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Setting: London, UK
Always spoiler free. Trigger warning for abuse and mental health.
I actually started Queenie a few months ago, put it down after reading two lines and didn’t start again until December. I bought the book back in the summer, which shows you how good I am at reading my new purchases. I always read everything in one go so it either goes; read in one day/sitting, read over a couple of days (due to work or trickiness), or start and put it down for a few weeks/months/years and then read it either as step one or two (or DNF). I don’t read things slowly.
Queenie follows our eponymous protagonist through a particularly turbulent moment of her life, as she struggles to come to terms with trauma in her past and present.
I’m not sure what I think about this book. It is very raw.
Queenie is a refreshing character in that she’s a complete fuck-up, but also incredibly realistic. The way she is characterised allows you to fall with her down a rabbit hole of her own making. As the reader, I also didn’t feel particularly judgy about her actions and choices, because she was written so well, but I did want to shake her, hug her and cry with her. I don’t think there is higher praise really, because it takes incredible skill for an author to draw you in and make you feel so much emotion and compassion for their fictional characters.
It was a complex snapshot into a very realistic life. There were layers of trauma, both belonging to a culture, women, a family and a singular person. It’s a lot to juggle in one book. It was done supremely well.
Although fictional, I feel like I came out of it learning something as well. Something about trauma, something about race, something about a culture of silence and ‘getting over it’ stigma around mental health. It’s hard to put into words what I learnt but I think if you read it, with an open mind, you will learn something as well.
Something I’m not sure I particularly got was the timing at the end of the book, because it couldn’t have been that long between what happened at her work and her returning. While the author was good in pointing out that it’s a road to recovery, it also seemed like a fast ‘fix’ from one of her lowest points to returning.
There were things I didn’t like as much but coming to sit down and write this, and learning this was a debut novel, I honestly just don’t care. It feels like pointing out those areas would just be nit-picking. I think it deserves all the accolades it received. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Well Red Reviews
Would I recommend this book? Yes
“The road to recovery is not linear. It’s not straight. It’s a bumpy path, with lots of twists and turns. But you’re on the right track.”
“I looked at my three friends, the lights exploding in the sky and illuminating their beautiful faces. They all represented a different part of my life, had all come to me at different times; why they'd all stuck with me, I was constantly trying to work out.”
“I can’t wake up and not be a black woman, Janet. I can’t walk into a room and not be a black woman, Janet. On the bus, on the tube, at work, in the canteen. Loud, brash, sassy, angry, mouthy, confrontational, bitchy.”