Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry follows our protagonist, Quinn, and her journey with coming to terms with herself and the lies she tells everyone around her – including herself. When Quinn’s most treasured possession, her journal, goes missing and she starts being blackmailed by the new owner, she is mortified. She soon enlists the help of her classmate Carter, who was the last person to see her journal, and the two of them work together to complete her to-list before it’s too late, and her whole journal’s content is revealed to the entire school.
I loved absolutely everything about Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. It really reminded me of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han, which I also really enjoyed, and was generally a really enjoyable read. I went into the story expecting a cute, light romance (which, don’t get me wrong, would’ve also been great), and so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be so much more. There truly was something for everyone in this book: friendship, fun, romance, and, of course, major coming of age story vibes.
Yes, you read that right – I would definitely argue that Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is predominantly a coming of age story. The loss of her journal forces Quinn to face up to some of her worst fears, which certainly made for a very interesting read. This ultimately led to a lot of character development on Quinn’s part, and it was really lovely to see her grow in confidence and watch her reliance on her journal fall away.
Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without Carter’s support. I loved the way Carter unconditionally supported Quinn and how he helped her face her fears and complete her to-do list. Carter himself was a really great character (despite his mistakes) and it was really nice reading about the way he looked out for her and how much he cared about her. This only made me ship him with Quinn more!
In all fairness, it was difficult not to ship them. Despite being set only over a few days Goffney still managed to make it more of a slow burn romance, with the added elements of enemies to friends to lovers. The combination of these two tropes was definitely really interesting and it meant I was eagerly anticipating the moment they ended up together. Despite the romance not being the sole focus it was still really sweet and it definitely didn’t lose any value; if anything, it made the book that much more realistic.
Of course, there wasn’t just romance in this book – there were also some incredibly strong friendships. Olivia and Quinn’s bond in particular really stood out to me and I really loved their friendship. Despite only having properly known each other a few days it was clear how much they meant to each other and I loved the fact that Olivia was included in the final confrontation rather than Carter. I think it was a really strong move by Goffney and illustrated how strong females really are!
Family issues were also very prominent in the book. Quinn’s parents certainly had a very tense and fraught relationship which really impacted Quinn, and Quinn herself didn’t have the best relationship with either of her parents. Having said that, by the end of the book the family was in a better place, due to Quinn coming clean about some of her lies and facing up to the truth – however hard that might’ve been.
I have to say, Quinn was certainly determined when it came to completing her list. She was definitely a really interesting character, and I found myself relating to her in a lot of different ways. Throughout the book, her strength and bravery only increased, and I loved watching her develop. Quinn is definitely up there with my favourite characters from this year – along with the other amazing characters, of course!
Another really important topic explored in this book was racism, which I thought was really well done by the author. Quinn’s race was a really important part of her identity and throughout the book she struggled to come to terms with the racism her race faced. It’s definitely really important that issues like these are explored in books because it can really impact readers’ mindsets and I really applaud the way Goffney incorporated it throughout.
I also really loved the chapter titles and table of contents. It might not sound like a big deal, but I think it’s the little things like these which really push a book up for me. So many books nowadays skip chapter titles altogether but I personally love them and the ones Goffney came up with were really perfect and engaging.
Of course, the names of the chapters came from the lists – which was yet another aspect I loved. I really love books which include lists (such as Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon) and Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry was certainly no exception. If anything, this might just have been my favourite, probably due to the fact that there were lists written by multiple people. Although the whole book was told from Quinn’s perspective, towards the end there were some lists Carter had written for Quinn, which I thought really demonstrated how thoughtful and caring his character was, and only served to further convince me that he was perfect for Quinn!
Overall, I would recommend Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry for anyone looking for a contemporary that gives more than just your average romance. Goffney certainly went above and beyond when piecing together the book, and there are so many great aspects! Having said that, I would also have to recommend it to any fan of romance – despite not being the main focus, the romance was still absolutely adorable.
I hope you enjoyed this review!