I’d heard/seen a lot of hype around Queenie so I snapped it up on kindle daily deal but then it’s taken me quite a while to get around to reading it! I’m glad I finally did.
I’ve seen it be compared to Bridget Jones’s Diary which is completely inaccurate. This book is much more raw, and dark. It has some funny moments but the subject matter is often very difficult to read (racism, sexual violence, harassment, domestic abuse). It reminded me most of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in how it slowly reveals the trauma behind the protagonist’s unhealthy behaviour.
What I liked
Queenie is an engaging and relatable character, even if I frequently want to shake her. I’m white British from a rural village, and it wasn’t until university I ever spoke to someone from a different cultural background. I found it very interesting to read, what is a very British novel, from the perspective of someone who experiences life differently. I felt the spectrum of racist incidents that Queenie dealt with day to day as a black woman was very effectively done, being dropped in without comment as they’re facts of life (the everyday microaggressions, people touching her hair, all the men commenting on “chocolate” skin and “black curves”).
Where I could personally relate to Queenie was remembering all the anxiety of being 25 and lost; floundering in a career and feeling untethered after a relationship ended. However, the way that Queenie reacts is completely different to how I did!
I enjoyed her friends and the inclusion of their group texts. They all have distinct voices, and some are more brutally honest than others! I also absolutely loved her family, but especially her Jamaican grandparents.
I liked that the story didn’t require Queenie to make any kind of heroic effort or gesture on behalf of her mother, when a court case was mentioned I thought that might be where we’d end up. I was glad that the heroic effort was just Queenie pulling her own life together, and not having to fix anybody else along the way.
What I didn’t like
It got off to a rocky start for me. Queenie‘s poor self-esteem and loneliness get her stuck in a loop of promiscuity with horrible men, and I found that was very tough to read. Sexual violence, and even just women enduring sex that they don’t enjoy, always makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.
This piece of the story almost went on too long for me, and I was so frustrated with her repeating the same mistakes, but just as I was about to write it off as a 3 star it pulled around and I was gripped until the end.
I really recommend giving Queenie a go!