Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is the story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance with epistolary elements. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets, leap-off-the-page sexual tension and the enemy-to-lover romantic arc.
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.
Expected publication: May 4th 2021 by HarperTeen
While Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry was on my TBR, I wasn’t planning on requesting it. Luckily the publisher reached out about it and I’m so glad they did. I loved this so much!
I’ll first state that I’m a white reader. But I think the way the author talked about race can be super helpful for teens. Things are explained so well and I think they might understand things better after reading books like this.
Quinn is a black teen living in Texas. It’s Austin, but still. There are very few black kids in her school and her only friends have been white. Her best friend, Destany, made some comments at a party and Quinn basically ghosted her. Destany thinks it’s because Quinn’s crush, Matt, asked her out. But that’s not it. Quinn realizes that her “friends” say racist things, including using the N word in front of her and she never said anything. She let it go and that was wrong. Quinn is a list maker. She has a journal with all her private thoughts in it. She lied to her parents about getting into Columbia and that’s just one of the secrets in the journal. Another is that she hasn’t visited her grandma, Hattie, since she went into a nursing home. Quinn is worried that she won’t remember her. There are also things about her feelings for Matt, boys she thinks are hot, and other sexual/romantic things. There’s just a lot. Quinn keeps most things inside and she’s not a huge risk taker. I loved Quinn so much.
Carter is another black kid in Quinn’s school. She thinks he’s hot, but that’s about it. When they are paired up for a school project, Carter and Auden go to Quinn’s house. Carter is confronted by Quinn’s dad who mistook him for a criminal robbing the house. Carter is livid and leaves pretty quickly. But he took Quinn’s journal instead of his own. Then he loses it. Whoever took it starts blackmailing Quinn. They also release the info about her not getting into Columbia. Everything is a mess and Quinn doesn’t know what to do. Carter offers to help. Even though she doesn’t trust him, Quinn accepts his help. She has to do things on her first list and show proof or more pages will be released. Carter introduces Quinn to Olivia (Livvy) and they get along so well. Quinn realizes how much different it is to hang out with people that are more like her. It’s less stressful and they understand her more than Destany ever did. The growing friendships were so fun to read about. Livvy was a favorite for me. Quinn starts having feelings for Carter, but she’s afraid. He does push her to do more and live in her head less.
“It’s a little hard to change when you have a journal telling you who to be.”
The kids visit colleges and go out to a concert in Austin. Quinn drinks way too much, but she’s having fun. She still has a lot of secrets including things she needs to tell Livvy about.
I loved everything in this book. The characters were the big standouts to me.
I gave this book 5 stars.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy.
Warnings for racism, major income differences, Alzheimer’s, bullying, blackmail, parents fighting, single parents, teenage drinking.
Have you read this book yet? Is it on your TBR?