This is going to be a deep, deep review. Which is not something I was expecting when I dove into Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry.
Audiobooks have been a gift for me so when I saw this brilliant cover, along with such a clever and catchy title available as an audiobook to review, I immediately snatched it up. I was prepared for teenage angst, some adolescent drama, and a great little escape.
Quick disclaimer: I received an ARC of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry with a computer generated narrator. I truly, truly hope that the end narrator for this book does justice to the nuanced voice the author so expertly created.
The first… probably 1/3 of the book was exactly that and I adored it. It was an excellent insight into the fear and anxiety every teenager experiences with the added pain of the threat of cyber bullying. Which was handled extremely well and with a grace and understanding that I envied.
However, what I did not anticipate, but what made Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry even more of an exceptional read, was the subtle racism and “accepted” racism that surrounded Quinn, one of a handful of Black students at a prestigious private school. Her white friends threw around the N word like it was nothing and would brush it off by saying that Quinn wasn’t Black like that. She “got it.” One of the lines that stood out to me most (and this is NOT a direct quote because I wasn’t smart enough to write it down and am, instead, paraphrasing) is when Auten (spelling may be incorrect as I am reviewing the audiobook version and I have no idea how his name is spelled) says to Quinn that he, as a white person, can’t imagine how hard it must be when white people use the “friendly/soft” N word and Black folks are left to wonder if they are safe with that person or not.
The absolute depth of racism that Quinn endured and accepted from her peers/friends was eye opening for me and left me gutted. I personally believe that, when you haven’t experienced racism, persecution, and oppression yourself, you will always, always, ALWAYS have something to learn. I never once expected to learn deep racial truths from a YA romance novel, but here we are folks. Not only does Quinn find her voice to stand up for her truth to those she called friends, ones who subjected her subtle racism, and sometimes more overt racism, every day in school.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry left me with heavy emotions and grew my sense of moral and ethical awareness in a way I was completely unprepared for, but exceptionally grateful for. I can’t possibly recommend this story enough to literally everyone.