Book Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

Title: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

Author: Joya Goffney

Genres:  Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Copy: Copy provided by Publisher

Availability: Available now

Summary: Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

Review: I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-love trope and want more Black love so I was so excited for Joya Goffney’s debut romance novel that combined my two favorite things. And I was not disappointed. I was so drawn into the story, really felt for Quinn and her journey so much that I kept reading well past when I should have been asleep.

The strength of the novel comes through Quinn’s journey as she has one of the most horrible things happen to her – her journal goes missing and then she is blackmailed for it. As one who keeps a journal where I hold my most private thoughts the fact that Quinn has hers essentially stolen, then parts shown to the entire school, really made me gasp. And that’s what endeared me to Quinn because she feels like she’s not strong enough to handle the stresses of her life so she writes this list and due to the blackmail she ends up facing her fears. She shows so much bravery in this book, even though there are times where she’s practically telling herself to do or say something. I think all of us have been there. Quinn is also one of a few Black students in her private school and has mostly had white friends all of her life. Again, this has really played on Quinn’s insecurities and she’s never really addressed how she feels about it to anyone (again, I could totally relate to that). Through the journey to reclaim her journal, and becoming friends with Carter Bennett, whom she thinks hates her, and Olivia Thomas, whom she once participated in a Mean Girl act against, she learns to fully love her Blackness and stand up for her beliefs. While this novel is a romance, it is also about learning to love and speak up for oneself.

I can’t review about a romance and not talk about the romance. Even though the timeline of the book is very short, the romance is a lovely slow burn. Quinn thinks Carter hates her and Carter thinks she is indifferent to him. Turns out both were wrong. Carter’s viewpoint of Quinn changes when he accidentally takes, then loses, Quinn’s journal as being the completely sincere person he is, he gets to know her to make amends. They realized they actually have a lot in common and Quinn opens up to him about thoughts, feelings, and fears in a way she never has before. It’s doesn’t hurt that Carter is the such an amazing romantic hero. He doesn’t come off as an ideal, but as a young man who has been brought up right. He’s every thoughtful, supporting, and overall just a good kid. Quinn had this image of him based on the way he dressed and how he was in class and through their experience she learns the real him. A classic example of to never judge a book by it’s cover. He’s also still a boy and the flirting and sexual tension/angst is done so well that I giggled so many times at their cuteness.

If you are looking for a fun romance that has a deep meaningful story, “Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” is the book for you.