Scout: Gallery. Mar. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781501196010. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501196034. F
DEBUT This long-awaited first novel from Carty-Williams presents an updated take on Bridget Jones's Diary with the story of 25-year-old newspaper editor Queenie Jenkins and her Jamaican British family. In the midst of a prolonged breakup with boyfriend Tom, Queenie experiences a miscarriage and begins to feel adrift. Carty-Williams creates a fast-paced narrative in the form of texts between Queenie and close friends Kyazike, Darcy, and Cassandra. Interspersed are chapters set in both the past and the present, focusing on the beginnings of Queenie's unstable dating history, particularly being fetishized for her ethnicity, along with her evolving relationship with Tom and the racism she experiences from his family. The author takes care when including flashbacks to Queenie's difficult childhood and current efforts to incorporate social justice work into her life, and she is at her best when describing the stigma of mental health within black communities, especially as Queenie's grandparents question her decision to see a therapist. Yet we never fully understand Queenie's yearnings for Tom or why she feels continually drawn to him, and the Daniel Cleaver-inspired character, Ted, could have been better fleshed out.
VERDICT Overall, a charming read for fans of women's fiction; Carty-Williams sets herself apart with her relatable and poignant writing.
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