Summary: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is Joya Goffney’s debut YA novel. It follows list-making high-schooler Quinn whose journal full of *very* private lists and confession is stolen. The thief then blackmails her into completing the items on one of her lists, one of which is telling her parents that she did not actually get into Columbia, the university she already told them she was accepted into. Quinn is convinced that her blackmailer is Carter Bennett, the last person to have had her journal. But when a page of her journal is posted on Instagram, Quinn is desperate enough to join forces with Carter to find the blackmailer.
This was a compulsively readable book for me. I listened to a NetGalley audio galley read by a synthetic voice (which was odd at first, but I quickly adjusted). Goffney’s storytelling skills are strong and she brings Quinn to life vividly. Quinn’s parents have a dysfunctional relationship and it was interesting to see how the author explored that while easing readers into Quinn’s friendship with Carter.
Quinn was not the most likable character. A bit like Tessa in Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters, she’s messy and a bit anxious. She’s in her head a lot and has a lot of self-doubt. I sympathized with her and although blackmail is never fun, I loved seeing her pushed out of her comfort zone and expanding her circle of friends.
I liked Quinn’s relationship with her grandmother, even though we don’t see them so much on the page in the present. Quinn and Bennett’s friend, Olivia become really good friends and sometimes it seemed like their friendship was more the story’s center than the relationship between Carter and Quinn. This book also explores other issues like racism, racial profiling, parental pressures and expectations, and self-confidence.
There were times when I felt like the book was going a bit off track, but I find that this is a common issue with debut YA novels where so much is happening at the same time. I also feel like the book could have been 20-50 pages shorter.
Overall: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a multi-faceted debut YA novel about living life in the real world vs in one’s head, expanding one’s view of their community, and fighting back when things don’t go as planned. Featuring a believable protagonist and realistic home dynamics, this book tackles several timely issues from racism to parental pressures and the college admission hustle. If you enjoyed Happily Ever Afters and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, there’s a high chance you might like this one too.
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I received an audiobook of this galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.