So, something a bit different today… introducing: Queenie – insecure, vulnerable, feisty and loving. A whirlwind of emotion rushes out at you from every page.

‘Queenie’ and the author, Candice Carty-Williams

Everybody has been talking about her and I mean literally, everybody. She came to my attention at work as she was selected to be Waterstones fiction book of the month for February. But since then I can’t stop seeing her! A recent trip to London had posters all over the tube, every store that sold books had her in a prominent position, if not taking over the entire store window…! How has she made such an impact?

From the blurb I was under the impression that the story would be about a passionate, driven young female journalist-come-activist. It is. And it isn’t. Queenie is a young female journalist and she is trying to make her way in the world – fighting racial inequality and discrimination everyday as a Jamaican British women – but there is so much more involved.

Candice Carty-Williams tackles issues of depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, failing relationships, racism, culture and workplace inequality head on. The bombardment from the page is as much Candice’s messages as Queenie’s personality.

The book spoke volumes about self love, recognising your limits, when and how to say no, coming to terms with events in your life – old and new and in particular the minefield that is relationships. Relationships come in all forms; parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, enemies, colleagues, dates, partners – the list goes on. It is so easy to become so absorbed in your own mind, sunk by the inner whirlpool of negative thoughts that one forgets to come up for air, recognise that everyone is fighting their own battles everyday. Queenie’s inner whirlpool eventually sinks her but she learns how to ask for help and those close to her learn to help – help her, help themselves and together help each other; it’s about love, community and understanding. The cast of characters was perhaps the best bit of the book for me. The ways that they interacted, the different approaches to the same situation depending on the person, their culture, their views, the different advice, mottos and family set ups and they way peoples actions affected a range of others. Ultimately I felt it was a book about character and finding personality and identity in a world that tries so hard to tell you how to be.

Early on in the book I nearly gave up altogether (a rare occurrence for me), I was so disappointed. Queenie seemed to be an exasperating, self-centred, sex obsessed drama queen and I didn’t want to read anymore about it. However, you can’t have a full opinion if you haven’t read the whole thing! Sooo… I persevered.

The story cleverly unfolds in a way that drip feeds you snippets of Queenie’s past, almost mirroring the way she is being slowly suffocated by them. Things pop up unexpectedly every now and again – tantalising hints – but they are quickly crushed as Queenie stuffs them back under the carpet as-it-were. Many of the causes of Queenie’s self destructive behaviour are not clear until the very end – symbolic of not judging a book by it’s cover or a person on their outward appearance. I have found that my opinion of the book has risen the longer it’s been since I finished it. Almost as if you are left to piece the puzzle of her life together on completion, giving an new understanding of her and a new perspective on events.

I did feel that certain elements were quite repetitive and there was a slow progession of plotline, however, I am glad I finished it.

Meg Readz xx

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