cover image Queenie


Candice Carty-Williams. Scout, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9601-0

Carty-Williams’s smart, fearless debut follows Queenie Jenkins, a Jamaican-British woman, after her longtime white boyfriend, Tom, asks for a “break.” Queenie’s impulsive behavior (promiscuity; distancing herself from friends) begins to unearth memories of childhood abuse, causing her to make more bad choices in an effort to alleviate her pain. When her career as a newspaper reporter begins to suffer and she’s issued her final warning before being fired, she decides to confront her demons head on. To emerge from her crisis, Queenie begins psychotherapy, much to the consternation of her grandmother, who sees Queenie’s mental health issues as a weakness she need only be strong to overcome. The result is a novel that stares directly into the pitfalls of being black in white spaces and (through flashbacks with Tom) the challenges of interracial relationships. Carty-Williams doesn’t shy from the messiness of sexual relationships, racial justice issues such as police brutality, or Queenie’s promiscuity, and the narrative is all the more effective for its boldness. This is an essential depiction of life as a black woman in the modern world, told in a way that makes Queenie dynamic and memorable. [em]Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners. (Mar.) [/em]