Goffney’s debut novel left me feeling light-hearted and incredibly satisfied.
From the Blurb:
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 (as well as embarrassing and cringeworthy truths) 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 and who Quinn loathes — 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.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a sweet contemporary that covers the harsh realities of racism, cyberbullying, and family. The novel provides the perfect balance of fun, cute, heart-warming moments, with important discussions about racism and being true to yourself. It’s a must read for any contemporary fan.
Quinn Jackson begins the novel as a shy young woman, who keeps all her fears and desires bottled up in a red spiral notebook. When the notebook goes missing, she goes into panic-mode, and things only get worse when someone begins blackmailing her with her secrets. Quinn’s character arc was really enjoyable to read. When we first see her, she is quick to anger, and in some ways frightened of who she is. As the story progresses she learns to face her fears, and the Quinn we see at the end is so brave and kind and determined that she is a role model for everyone, everywhere.
Our secondary characters could have been a little more fleshed out, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love them. We get enough hints at the history of Carter, Livvy, and Auden that you can’t help but want to find out more. The author has clearly given a lot of thought to them, but I would have liked to see that more on the page. Each character comes from a unique background, and offers something new to Quinn as she struggles through the bullying. I fell in love with each of them, and I would love to know even more about them.
I believe there are lessons and messages for everyone within this book — and that everyone will take something different from it. Joya Goffney demonstrates the impact racism has on everyone, by opening up a discussion between Quinn and her father about his potential discomfort with his own skin colour. She shows us that no matter the outside appearance, everyone can have family troubles, and this can manifest in a variety of ways.
Goffney really makes the story about learning to own and love who you are — whether that be loving the colour of your skin, owning your mistakes, or confronting the things that scare you the most.
Although the early chapters of the novel may have felt a little stilted, I soon found myself sucked into the story, rooting for Quinn, and inevitably falling for the romance. Goffney perfectly describes that insanely joyous feeling of being alive in a scene towards the end that I couldn’t help but feel my heart soar. I finished Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry with a huge smile on my face, and I’m sure you will too.