Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

HarperTeen. May 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063024793.
Gr 8 Up–Quinn makes a list for everything in her spiral notebook: It keeps her grounded. But when her notebook goes missing and an Instagram account posts one of her lists, an anonymous blackmailer informs Quinn she needs to complete her list of seven fears or else the entire notebook goes public. She knows Carter is the last person who had her notebook, though he swears he’s not the blackmailer. To prove it, he teams up with Quinn to complete the list, hunt down the real culprit, and show Quinn how to let go. Goffney’s debut novel hits all the right points as a dynamic modern romance full of heartache and courage. Quinn’s experience as a Black teen attending a predominantly white private school accurately emphasizes the racial prejudice that exists today. Even as Quinn faces horrible situations (like her white friends using a racial slur), Olivia and Auden are characters who show the importance of respect, true friendship, and allyship. Throughout the novel, Quinn struggles with her emotions, using her lists as a crutch. As she faces her seven fears, she discovers that a person shouldn’t box themselves into a set of ideals; and always leave room for growth and forgiveness. Quinn and Carter are Black. Olivia is biracial and Auden is white.
VERDICT For fans of Ben Philippe’s Charming as a Verb or Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star, Quinn’s story is for readers seeking more than just a simple romance.

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