Queenie was a great coming of age story. It taught me a lot about what black women face daily and did an amazing job of putting their feelings into words. Queenie faced a lot of hard situations in the book, involving racism, sexism, low self-esteem, break-ups, and the general difficulties young women face trying to find their place in the world. These things all threatened to bring her down, but with her friend’s help and her perseverance, she kept moving forward.
Unhealthy Relationships with Men
After Queenie and her boyfriend broke up, she has to adjust to life as a single woman. He wasn’t a perfect boyfriend, he didn’t support her in front of his family, and wasn’t willing to put in any work on their relationship, but he seemed to appreciate and see her for who she was. When that was gone, I think Queenie missed the affection and companionship that comes along with having a boyfriend and tried to seek that with other men.
If I pretended the night had been amazing, maybe I could rewrite the memory of Guy in my head so I felt slightly less then a sex aide to him.Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Unfortunately, most of the men that gave Queenie attention were not interested in her at all. Men used her just for her body, they made inappropriate comments about her curves, and “beautiful skin”. They treated her roughly, even violently, and used her as an object for sex.
Strength and Resilience
With everything Queenie has experienced including childhood trauma, she has low self-esteem. She is lucky to have great friends who try to give her advice and warn her about the men around her, but she continued to self-sabotage, and justify her experiences. She felt she needed to be punished for the failed relationship, saying things such as “This is what is left when you push love away”.
When she really started to spiral, jeopardizing her job, and safety, including experiencing a string of racist and immortalizing situations at a pool and in a bar, I felt very angry for all she had to endure. It cant be easy to always be on guard, having to think if you are somehow making others uncomfortable with your presence, and not able to act like yourself.
I can’t understand it, and it makes me scared and confused, and it makes me feel like we don’t belong like we have to prove our worth just to be allowed to exist.Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
I felt really bad for Queenie in this book, nothing ever seemed to go right for her. At the same time, I was very impressed with her resilience. She knows she self sabotages, and she wants to improve. Throughout the book, she makes notes and lists for herself, which I liked and thought were a good addition to the book.
Societal Issues addressed in Queenie
This book spoke about so many things, like Black Lives Matter, mental health, racism, and sexism. Watching Queenie fall was hard, but watching her grow was amazing. When she finally committed to putting herself first, it caused a few ruffles with her family, but she followed what she knew she needed, and they soon respected her decisions.
It’s not about putting black lives on a pedestal I don’t even know what that means… Its saying black lives at this point, and historical, do not, and have not mattered, and that they should.Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie is a modern heroine, she is unsure and afraid, but also strong, confident, and beautifully complicated. It takes time to become your best self, and she faced many bumps, but she picked herself up each time. She made some bad decisions, but owned them and corrected them, instead of getting lost inside of them. I think every young woman trying to navigate today’s world should read this book. It teaches us that you will make mistakes, and life often sucks, but if you listen to your heart and do what you know is right, things can get better. Don’t let the jerks of the world bring you down and stop you from learning and growing. Never hide who you are.
If You Liked This Book…
Such a Fun Age is another book that discusses racial issues from the perspective of a young black women. It follows an unhealthy relationship between a babysitter and her employer. Its another great book about a young women who gains confidence and finds her voice to stand up to those who are treating her wrong.
Piecing me Together is a YA novel about a young girls who takes every opportunity offered to her, so she can leave her poor neighborhood. But some of the opportunities don’t feel right, and Jade starts to question if leaving her home is the only way to make a difference and succeed in life.
The Hate you Give is a great book for all ages that has also been adapted into a movie. Starr is a relatable character who lives between two words, the lower class neighborhood where she lives, and the prep school she attends. When Starr witnesses a shooting of a friend at the hands of the police she is forced to consider her safety vs speaking out about what she saw.