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.
Let’s start with our leading female, Quinn – I have some serious respect for Quinn and her journal of lists, because I can not follow a list for the life of me. She was extremely dependant on this journal, so much so, that every secret she has ever had was held captive within these pages, so when said journal goes missing, Quinn is forced to navigate life without her lists and face the world for what it is, instead of keeping her fears and personal moments on paper. I related a lot to Quinn’s fear of coming face to face with the now and accepting change, as that is something I have always struggled with myself. I would much rather create a world in my mind, where everyone I love is still the way I have always known them, where my feelings are written down rather than said out loud and every part of what makes me the person I am is kept close and not exposed to the world. The world is an extremely vulnerable place to be and as a person, it can be extremely hard to allow those vulnerabilities to sit at the forefront of ourselves. The loss of Quinn’s journal really couldn’t have been a better incident to have happened to her, as she no longer was able to check off lists that in the end, were restricting her of a life she didn’t know could even exist.
Quinn’s new found freedom and perspective of the world would also not have been possible, if it wasn’t for the three people who had unexpectedly become a big part of her world and opened her eyes to amazing and endless possibilities. Carter, Livvy and Auden encourage Quinn to check off the list that is currently blackmailing her, supporting her in facing situations that she always believed would never leave the comfort of her journal’s pages. I especially loved Livvy, when it came to Quinn’s insecurities, as being in a predominately white school, Quinn was afraid to be herself and sat back silently, whilst her peers disrespected her and blatantly ignored the person Quinn was as a young, black woman. Having another young black, woman, like Livvy by Quinn’s side, she was able to embrace every single part of her from her sexuality, to styling her hair, to standing up to others and unapologetically being herself. Livvy is every girl’s dream best friend.
The relationship between Quinn and Carter was expected, but still surprisingly beautiful all in the same breath. Their banter was a force to be reckoned with and their attraction to one another, despite the constant denial, was so obvious in every single way and again, being away from her lists, Quinn was able to see that she had been looking at her life from all the wrong perspectives, including her best friend Matt and new friend Carter. Her lists no longer applied to the way she was looking at the world and she had plenty of things that she needed to adjust. Carter challenged her the most throughout this book and they really complemented each other perfectly – Carter encouraged Quinn to accept herself, flaws and all, and Quinn gently pushed Carter to be more open and honest, so loved ones around him could appreciate him for everything he was. The way in which Carter got to know a lot more about Quinn was not the best, but it made it all the more special, as no matter what information he now had, whether it be the good or the bad, he never stopped wanting to learn even more about her.
Excuse me While I Ugly Cry is a fun, fast-paced, engaging and raw read. The characters were all extremely loveable and despite their flaws, they all came out of this story in the end as better people, ready to take on the world. What was especially important within this book was the focus on female friendships and the power that held. All conversations were so incredibly wholesome and healthy, there was not a toxic moment in sight and we love to see it. The adventures the missing journal also allowed the characters and the readers to endure were just so pure and exciting, it really allows you to also step back and look at the way you are controlling your own world and take those next steps to face new challenges and go out on your own. There was some extremely important conversations throughout this book as well around class, racism and internalised racism, that really helped me connect and understand the characters, in a way that I would never have to personally go through myself and I think it’s really important to step into other people’s shoes sometimes and continuously pave a better mindset and outlook on the world and our communities within it.