Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
At the start of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, Quinn (the protagonist) is afraid of so many things in her life. She keeps her emotions under a tight leash, writing lists of her dreams and fears in her journal rather than facing them head-on.
This strategy of dealing with her emotions fails her when someone steals her journal and cyberbullies her into facing her fears or having her worst secrets exposed.
As the anonymous bully tries to ruin her life Quinn makes new friendships and starts to grow into herself.
This book has everything I want from my young adult contemporaries. The characters are lively and realistic, there are nuanced discussions about the realities of being a Black teenage girl, and there’s a meaningful ending.
Quinn has so much heart that at times my own ached in sympathy. She’s dealing with a few distinct kinds of grief: college looming around the corner means the life she knows will end, her grandma’s health isn’t doing well, her parents have a fraught marriage, and she feels pressure to keep her family together.
Goffney has amazing emotional pacing; Quinn would experience such highs and the next chapter would drag her below the ground to a new low.
Quinn’s relationship with Carter (the love interest) and his circle of friends was my favorite part of this book. The group meshed so well together and really helped Quinn with her cyberbullying.
Carter was the cherry on top of this book cake. He is the best love interest I’ve read about all year. Period. His character has all the charm, he supported Quinn with her After Quinn’s emotionally fraught moments Carter was there to bring her spirits back up and remind her that not everything in her life was bad.
The way Goffney handled racism and the Black girl experience was amazing. Quinn and her friends have difficult conversations about internalized racism, classism, and misogynoir.
I loved the way the characters talked about being the only Black person in a room and feeling like a representative for your entire race. It was real, raw, and didn’t spare anyone’s feelings. There was so much care in this narrative.
Goffney does not infantilize Quinn; she makes mistakes, hurts people, and acts in ways that go against her interests, but the narrative doesn’t punish her for her wrongdoings. She is given the space to make mistakes and grow from them. I want to live in the world Goffney creates, where a Black girl has the space to make mistakes and learn better.
Sistah Girls, I give this book five stars. It’s the perfect book to gift a young Sistah Girl and a good book selection if you want to buddy read.
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