Queenie

Queenie

by Candice Carty-Williams

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501196010
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 19,438
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Candice Carty-Williams is a senior marketing executive at Vintage. In 2016, she created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, which aims to find, champion, and celebrate underrepresented writers. She contributes regularly to i-D, Refinery29, BEAT Magazine, and more, and her pieces, especially those about blackness, sex, and identity, have been shared globally. Queenie is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CandiceC_W.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Queenie includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Introduction

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and not feeing entirely comfortable in either. She’s worked hard to obtain a job at a national newspaper, but once there, she finds she’s constantly comparing herself to her white, middle-class peers and coming up wanting. Plus, there’s the break-up with her long-term boyfriend. Unmoored, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places, making many questionable decisions.

As Queenie careens from one poor choice to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. What were your first impressions of Queenie? Did you like her? Were you surprised to hear the story behind Queenie’s name? How does hearing the story from Sylvie affect Queenie? Do you think that Sylvie chose a fitting name for Queenie? Explain your answer.

2. Queenie tells Tom, “Well, your family; it’s what a family should be.” (p. 293) Discuss her statement. What is it about Tom’s family that Queenie finds so appealing? Compare her family to Tom’s. Did you find Queenie’s family to be supportive? Why or why not?

3. Describe the structure of Queenie. What’s the effect of the shifting time frame? How do the flashbacks help you better understand Queenie and her relationship with Tom? Do the texts and emails that are included also help you better understand what Queenie is thinking? If so, how?

4. When Cassandra says that Kyazike’s name is “like Jessica without the ‘ic’ in the middle,” Kyazike corrects her, saying, “No. Like my own name. Not some . . . Western name. Chess. Keh.” (p. 170) Explain her reaction. Why is it important for Kyazike to correct Cassandra’s assertion? Why does hearing Kyazike’s name impress Queenie when they first meet?

5. After Queenie pitches an article designed to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter movement, one of her colleagues responds by saying, “All that Black Lives Matter nonsense . . . All lives matter.” (p. 376) Discuss Queenie’s reaction to this assertion. What’s her counterargument? Why is it so important for her to cover the movement?

6. Gina tells Queenie, “Whenever I’ve had a huge upheaval, my mother has always said, ‘Keep one foot on the ground when two are in the air.’” (p. 224) Why does she offer Queenie this advice? Were you surprised by the kindness that she shows Queenie? Do you think Gina is a good boss? Would you want to work for her? Why or why not?

7. After a conversation with Darcy, Queenie thinks, “I wished that well-meaning white liberals would think before they said things that they thought were perfectly innocent.” (p. 178) What does Darcy say that leads to Queenie’s reaction? Think about the comment. Why is it so charged? How does Darcy’s comment highlight the differences between Queenie’s and Darcy’s experiences?

8. What did you think of Guy? Why does Queenie spend time with him? How does she describe their interactions to her friends? Contrast the reality of their interactions to what Queenie tells her friends. Why do you think that Queenie romanticizes the details?

9. According to Queenie, Darcy, Cassandra, and Kyazike “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.” (p. 174) What part of Queenie’s life does each woman represent? Describe their friendships. What does each woman bring to Queenie’s life? Do you think that they’re good friends to her? Why or why not?

10. Queenie’s grandmother tells her, “If you are sad, you have to try not to be,” causing Queenie to muse that “all of my grandmother’s responses come with a Caribbean frame of reference that forces me to accept that my problems are trivial.” (p. 46) How does Queenie’s grandmother deal with problems? How does she react when Queenie broaches the subject of getting counseling, and why?

11. Janet asks Queenie “what do you see, when you look in the mirror, when you think about yourself as a person?” (p. 510) Why is this such a difficult question for Queenie to answer? How would you describe her? If someone posed this question to you, how would you answer it?

12. What did you think of Queenie’s lists? Are they effective in helping her navigate stressful situations? What’s the effect of including them in the novel? How do the lists help propel the story forward? Did you learn anything interesting about Queenie from her list of New Year’s Resolutions? If so, why?

13. Sylvie feels that she “let [Queenie] down, I should have been better to her, that way she might have been better herself.” (p. 315) Why did Sylvie leave? How did her departure affect Queenie? Describe their relationship. How does it evolve throughout the novel?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. When Queenie is searching for a new flat, one of her considerations is fitting “the books that I’m determined to carry throughout life with me.” (p. 57) Have you read any books that you feel compelled to keep with you as you moved house? Tell your book club about them. After hearing about all the books that the members of your book club love, choose one for your next discussion.

2. In talking about her family, Queenie says, “‘Food is love’ is my family’s unofficial motto.” (p. 439) If your family had an official motto, what would it be? Share it with your book club, explaining its origins.

3. At Christmastime, Queenie watches Love, Actually, “a film that usually makes me roar with laughter through sheer disbelief.” (p. 309) Watch Love, Actually with your book club. What did you think of it? Are there any particular scenes in the film that you think Queenie would find unbelievable? Which are they and why?

4. Tom gives Queenie a headscarf as a gift during their first Christmas together. Why is this gift so special to Queenie? Have you gotten any gifts like that? Tell your book club about them, and explain why the gift was so meaningful to you.

Customer Reviews

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Queenie 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
JillJemmett 13 days ago
This is a modern romantic comedy. Queenie is a British woman who works for a newspaper in London. She is of Jamaican descent. Her storyline reminded me of Bridget Jones’s Diary, because of the way she has to balance her work with her romantic life. However, there were some serious issues in the story. I really liked the way realistic issues were addressed in the story. Queenie got a little carried away with dating multiple men after her serious relationship ended. She ended up at health clinics a few times because of these encounters. I appreciated that she had to deal with the consequences of her actions, unlike many characters in romance stories. The story wasn’t all serious. There were some funny parts as well. Queenie refers to her friends in their group chat as the “Corgis” because they support their queen. There were also some funny situations with Queenie’s grandparents. Though there were a lot of serious parts of the story, I enjoyed the light humour as well. I really enjoyed this story! It’s a refreshingly modern take on a romantic comedy. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
DeediReads 19 days ago
Alright, y’all. I have complicated feelings about this book. It was well written, and super important, and said a lot of things very much worth hearing about race and mental health. But I — a type-A who compulsively tries to fix problems everywhere I see them — was not built to enjoy reading it. Queenie is a millennial in her first job, an entry-level magazine editor in London. When the story starts, she’s just started a break with her long-term boyfriend. We get the sense that she is a lot to handle and very unwilling to let others in. She’s outwardly unapologetic about this, which pushes people away even more, but inwardly she feels halfway regret. This became too much for Tom, and he asked her to move out. Now she has to figure out who she is and hope that he will come back. But she can’t quite find herself between all the destructive decisions she knows she shouldn’t make, but somehow does anyway. She’s got a small group of girls who love and support her, and they’re trying their best to help steer her in a healthy direction while allowing her to make her own choices. Her depression and anxiety bloom out of control, which is when we get more insight into the racial and family dynamics that are also shaping her journey. She has to find the strength and resolve to pick herself back up and become the person she knows she can be. As I read the book — which, by the way, is told very creatively with texts, emails, etc. thrown in there — I just felt more and more anxious. Queenie was spiraling, but there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Everything she was working toward was not going to be good for her. I finished the book with great relief. Still, I admire the author and the story, because it’s brave and important. Somehow the writing was simultaneously light and funny while also being heavy and heart-wrenching. Worthy of your time, for sure. But be prepared for discomfort.
AmberK1120 25 days ago
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of the book. I truly don't know what to say about this book in order to do it justice. It's been getting a lot of hype, and it's well-deserved. It blew me out of the water. I don't agree with the comparison to Bridget Jones' Diary, because that implies a levity to this story that is deceiving. Yes, there are plenty of humorous parts to Queenie's story, but it's so much deeper and more intense than that applies. The comparison doesn't give Queenie the credit it deserves. 
Queenie is on a very self-destructive path, and I know this is going to irritate some readers. She makes very poor life choices that could potentially put her life in danger, but it's part of her path. Her life experiences thus far have shaped her into the person we meet in the beginning of the book, and while it's devastating to watch Queenie put herself in these situations, it's not unrealistic. I found myself able to relate to so many little parts of her thought processes, and even some of her actions. It took me back to that time in my life when I was so desperately trying to figure out my identity and the path I wanted to walk in life. I think it'll resonate with a lot of readers. 
Another part of the book that spoke so loudly to me was the racism. As a white woman, I've been making a conscious effort to be more aware of racism around me, and my inherent racism that I've been blind to. Watching these scenes play out in Queenie's world, and hearing her thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement helped me to continue to learn and open my eyes more, and I so hope it reaches others, too. Maybe this sounds preachy, but we can't continue to grow and make positive strides if we don't make ourselves aware of ingrained in each of us racism is. 
 I don't think my words will ever be able to adequately express my love for this book, so I hope you take my fumbling lack of eloquence as the praise I mean for it to be and grab yourself a copy of Queenie ASAP.
AmberK1120 25 days ago
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of the book. I truly don't know what to say about this book in order to do it justice. It's been getting a lot of hype, and it's well-deserved. It blew me out of the water. I don't agree with the comparison to Bridget Jones' Diary, because that implies a levity to this story that is deceiving. Yes, there are plenty of humorous parts to Queenie's story, but it's so much deeper and more intense than that applies. The comparison doesn't give Queenie the credit it deserves. 
Queenie is on a very self-destructive path, and I know this is going to irritate some readers. She makes very poor life choices that could potentially put her life in danger, but it's part of her path. Her life experiences thus far have shaped her into the person we meet in the beginning of the book, and while it's devastating to watch Queenie put herself in these situations, it's not unrealistic. I found myself able to relate to so many little parts of her thought processes, and even some of her actions. It took me back to that time in my life when I was so desperately trying to figure out my identity and the path I wanted to walk in life. I think it'll resonate with a lot of readers. 
Another part of the book that spoke so loudly to me was the racism. As a white woman, I've been making a conscious effort to be more aware of racism around me, and my inherent racism that I've been blind to. Watching these scenes play out in Queenie's world, and hearing her thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement helped me to continue to learn and open my eyes more, and I so hope it reaches others, too. Maybe this sounds preachy, but we can't continue to grow and make positive strides if we don't make ourselves aware of ingrained in each of us racism is. 
 I don't think my words will ever be able to adequately express my love for this book, so I hope you take my fumbling lack of eloquence as the praise I mean for it to be and grab yourself a copy of Queenie ASAP.
sspea 25 days ago
This book started out light, and somewhere in the middle moved into some pretty heavy issues, mental illness, neglect, casual racism, blatant racism and abuse in many forms. We first meet Queenie as she is moving out of the home she once shared with her boyfriend Tom, needing his space Tom has suggested a break. In flashbacks we see what transpired in their relationship. Leaning on her friends and family, Queenie tries to get through this "break" while making unhealthy choices, and unhealthy excuses for herself as well as the people in her life. I thought this book was a very honest look at mental illness. Yes Queenie makes bad decision (after bad decision). Yes Queenie lets people use her and take advantage of her, and while this is frustrating, it is the nature of the beast. We can not fault Queenie for the way she deals with her demons, and she has many.
Elena_L 3 months ago
Queenie is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London and works as a jornalist. After she is having a break time with her boyfriend, her world sort of turns upside down and she is desperately trying to find some meaning to her life. Candice addresses themes such as sex, racism, friendship, family dynamics, mental health illness and mainly the life of a black woman in modern society. As Queenie was jumping from man to man in order to find someone worthy, I found all this situation utterly realistic and unfortunately sad. The author writes these heavy issues with sensitivity and a good dose of sarcasm/humor. Thus I flew through the pages but at the same time, this book made me reflect a lot about many problems that people trivialize. In addition, the main character's journey is completely relatable: her thoughts and actions are so genuine; her self-discovery while going through mental health treatment is inspiring and highlight the fact that this issue should be discussed and taken with care. Personally I loved the text conversations which added even more realism to this book. Ultimately, "Queenie" is a contemporary fiction that everyone should read that leads us to examine the everyday barriers and the modern society's behavior. [I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review]
Angie0184 3 months ago
I wish we could give more nuanced stars because I would go closer to 4 stars than 3. Probably 3.5-3.8. I'm so torn on this. Briget Jones it is NOT, even though that's the blurb it's given (Bridget Jones meets Americanah, and I'm sorry to say I haven't read that yet, so I can't speak to that half of the comparison). That was a bumbling story about a goofy girl that...well, I'm not writing a review about that so not wasting any more time there. There's a lot good about this story, and there's a lot problematic about this story, and there's a lot that I feel like it's not even my place to speak on as a white woman. Queenie starts the story in a break up with her white boyfriend. The entirety of the first good half of the book is taken up by that. One of his family members is AWFUL. Racist, rude, horrible, flat out awful to her, and while, yes there are moments in their relationship that she's pushed him away and picked petty arguments with him, this was a shining moment for him to WTF himself out of his family's house until they apologized to her. He didn't. He let her make a cold, dark walk to a bus bench and sit there for hours, to what? Think about what awful choice she'd made by storming out, rightfully angry? Pfft. Boy, please. But...she doesn't boy please. She tries to forget it happened, and gets confused when he says he needs "time apart." She spends the next moooonths making terrible sexual decisions, placing herself in horrible, dangerous positions, this gets DARK ya'll. Two of her friends, Darcy and Kyazike are gems and stay by her side throughout, but one friend ends up in a huge plot twist and you'll wish she would kick her to the curb for good. The girl has no redeeming qualities. Carty-Williams makes mental health issues a primary topic in this novel, really delving into the hurt and pain that Queenie dealt with in her childhood, from abandonment by her father, to the abuse she and her mother suffered at the hands of Roy, all of which get brought up in therapy during a hiatus she is forced to take from work. I feel like the real glory of this book is the end, duh - when is it not, but truthfully not all book are great at the end. She has made leaps and bounds finding herself again after dealing with some really painful memories, and making some real growth when it comes to learning from how her origin shaped who she is as an adult. Purely from the standpoint of a woman, it was really painful to read some of what this character put herself through. My heart broke for so many times through this book but that's the mark of a well written character. That we care enough that they're healing, and that we're glad they have the support systems in place that Queenie had when she comes out the other side.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Queenie is a sensitive, funny, and oftentimes sad novel of a young British-Jamaican woman navigating through her twenties in London. Depicting her relationships, family bonds, and friendships, it touches upon universal themes, while her own voice stays characteristically strong and independent. The wonderful thing about Queenie is the balance between individual and collective experience. It helps you understand another perspective more without isolating that as one that can only be understood by the one going through. As a result, it is a voice of common ground, one that strives not for sameness but more empathy. Queenie is a delight, and a wise read. It is deep and meaningful, while succeeds in easy to read at all times.
Toya Scaggs 3 months ago
I tore through this novel in less than 12 hours last weekend, and I am still trying to find actual coherent reflections on this book rather than just screaming at all of you about how amazing this book was. takes a very deep breath. Queenie is a brilliantly executed novel that is witty, honest, raw, heartbreaking, political, and hopeful. Queenie endures so much throughout this book, but she doesn’t let any of it break her spirit. When Queenie’s long-term boyfriend Tom decides that they need a “break”, Queenie decides to fill that void by engaging in lots of unsafe sex with people she barely knows. It is emphasized in the book that she has always choses white partners(the reason behind this is revealed later). The partners she chooses embrace exploit her “exotic” black girl features, but are quick to dismiss her for any sort of relationship potential (This hit me in the heart like a dagger. This is EXACTLY what I experienced in college.) This creates a vicious cycle for Queenie’s lovelife, which turn into utter chaos. Queenie is a journalist for one of the most prominent newspapers in the UK (The DailyMail), but her boss only allows her to write the cookie cutter pieces that will please the viewers. Queenie is passionate about the increased protests surrounding the police brutality of black men and the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States, and she desperately wants to highlight this topic. However, she is silenced by her boss and peers whenever she approaches the subject, which makes her internal struggle at work even worse. This book also broaches the taboo of discussing mental health issues within the black community. Whenever Queenie tries to confide in her grandmother and voice her potential need for therapy, her grandmother is completely dismissive. This definitely adds to Queenie’s downward trajectory. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because I really do think that this is one of those books that you have to experience those emotions for yourself. I read Queenie as if Queenie was myself. My 20s were an incredible dark time filled with misplaced love/lust, depression, racial identity crisis, a need for love and acceptance, loss of a loved one, and divorce. I felt her pain to the depths of my soul. This book will be one of those that I recommend to people not just because it’s eye opening and thought provoking but because it also describes so many pieces of me that I have never been able to put into words. Thank you to Gallery Books for an advanced copy of this book. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 3 months ago
In the name of full disclosure, there are two things I should start this review with. The first is that I received this book for free through Bookish First. The second is that I am white, very white. So, while I enjoyed this book personally, I can’t quite say what it would be like to read it from another perspective. The thing that first grabbed my attention with this book was, honestly, the cover. It is stunning! It’s definitely something that would catch your eye on the bookstore shelf. Then I read the excerpt that was provided on the Bookish First website. I was blown away! You would think that, given the narrator of the novel, that this would be a book geared toward a very narrow and audience. But you would be wrong. This book is so incredibly relatable. The main character faces a slew of issues that I think every millennial has dealt with. In the first chapter of the book, the protagonist, Queenie, goes to the gynecologist for an issue with her IUD. It turns out that she was pregnant and has had a miscarriage. This was what really drew me into Queenie’s world and made her relatable to me. I gave birth to my own IUD baby about four months ago. Despite our major differences, this was something Queenie and I had in common. Bad relationships, getting over heartbreak, casual sex, struggles at work and finding a career, crappy housing with incredibly high rents, Queenie faces all of this and more in the first half of the book. The second half of the book delves into even more issues, like social injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and mental health issues like the anxiety that Queenie herself faces. Every single millennial that I know has dealt with at least one of these issues, many of them have dealt with them all. Regardless of background or race, this is a book that every millennial should read. One of the things that I’ve read online is that they some readers take issue with Queenie’s casual, often abusive relationships and her long-term relationship with a white man. They say that she is constantly being taken advantage of by white men. I completely disagree with this for two reasons. The first reason Is that a number of her sexual partners are not white. Her first casual encounter is with a Pakistani man, not a white man. I also feel that her anxiety and insecurity that she deals with in the second half of the novel really contribute to her choosing poor partners. Second, without giving too much away, from what we learn about Queenie’s mother and her own relationships, it comes as no surprise that Queenie lets men take advantage of her. The bigger issue, I find, is that this book is compared to novels like Bridget Jones's Diary. This not at all the light-hearted, chick-flick novel that Bridget Jones is. Queenie deals with much more serious issues and is often much more hard to handle. It is, in many ways, better. But it definitely not the book to read if you’re looking for a light read. Overall, it is an amazing book that I would recommend to any millennial, or anyone looking to read more about the problems our generation is facing.
Anonymous 22 days ago
a+fresh++coming-of-age+story+focused+on+a+woman+of+African+descent.+funny%2C+heartbreaking+and+complex.+