Queenie Jenkins can’t cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend,Tom. That’s definitely just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn’t seem to see her, a family who don’t seem to listen (if it’s not Jesus or water rates, they’re not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don’t really understand her, it’s no wonder she’s struggling.
She was named to be queen of everything. So why is she finding it so hard to rule her own life?
A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on modern life, QUEENIE will have you nodding in recognition, crying in solidarity, and rooting for this unforgettable character every step of the way.
Queenie is a 25-year-old of Jamaican descent, who lives in London and works for a magazine paper, all the while trying to navigate the trials and tribulations of life, handling it all as best as she can.
I had mixed feelings about Queenie, but I liked her. She wasn’t perfect and at times rather annoying due to her denial. But I also empathised with her on a level like she was my friend and I wanted to have her back. Beyond Queenie, there are an array of good characters, such as her family and friends. They all contributed to making this story as engaging as it was, and the story truly captured a family dynamic that was easy to like. I also really, really loved the character Kyazike as she was upbeat and funny.
This made for heavy reading, cause I’ve got to say, it was pretty grim at times. It was darker than I’d describe it as humorous, romantic and so on. I found myself reading chapter upon chapter of Queen’s self-destruction, and it was very sad. Honestly, the book’s blurb doesn’t give a clear idea of just how sinister the affairs this story encompasses. My overall feelings throughout this read was pure distress for the character, as I personally didn’t feel there was enough comedy or good feeling in amongst it all, to provide some relief from the overwhelming sense of how uncomfortable it was reading Queenie’s spiralling life.
Ultimately, this book is about mental health, which I wish was made clearer before I started reading it. Once I got my head around that, it was easier to understand why Queenie said or did certain things, and I mentally rallied behind her willing her to get better. The structure of the book explores Queenie’s present-day life, but it also visits her past to establish just how Queenie has ended up where she has.
Queenie is a good story worth reading for many reasons. It illustrates how mental health can influence a person’s quality of life. It is a powerful insight into how racism is so casually dismissed and perpetuated, and also how it can affect a person’s life. It explores generational differences within a family particularly due to cultural ideals, and it also contains strong female friendships that I can only wish every woman has.
Overall, I read the book over 3 days and I’m rating it 4 stars, as for me it really needed a bit more humour or good feeling to balance out the bleakness. This could definitely be a book people find difficult to get through due to the nature of how dire Queenie’s life becomes during the story. However, I cannot champion enough that this story has a handful of formidable female characters, engaging moral in a variety of topical areas and a clear message that mental health is something that should always be taken seriously, and treated with the upmost respect. Definitely worth a read, as long as readers are aware that this could be a little distressing for some 🙂
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Published 11th April 2019
Genre: general fiction, women’s fiction
*Thank you kindly to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an e-copy, in exchange for this honest review.