I myself haven’t read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, so that’s not what drew me into wanting to read Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. The synopsis is what intrigued me, and looking at the cover definitely let me know that as a person of color, it was a story that I could identify with.
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.
The thing that I enjoyed about Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is it deals with something a lot of us do on a daily basis: lists. We make lists for various things, whether it’s a shopping list or a to-do list, we have created one or more. Now, I have never gone as far as writing lists about people I want to kiss or lies people believe about me. That’s some super secretive stuff you don’t want anyone getting their hands on. Unfortunately, Quinn is not so lucky, and some classmates take her journal.
Quinn’s journal is extremely personal and although she has done some simple lists, there are also some that reveal things she would never want anyone to ever know. Things like lying to her parents about getting into Columbia, that she’s not bothered by her white friends using the N-word around her, or that she has a crush on, and wants to kiss her classmate Carter Bennett.
When her journal goes missing and one of her lists is uploaded to an unknown Instagram account, Quinn initially suspects Carter. After a study session, he mistakenly took it home and because they don’t exactly get along, she thinks he’s doing it as a way to get back at her for being the rich black girl who has everything. He assures her that’s not the case.
Carter did have her journal, but his intention was to return it to her, until he lost it in one his classes. He genuinely feels awful about losing it, because he can see just how upsetting it is and knowing that someone is using it to blackmail her makes him feel even worse. They both decide to work together to figure out who could have taken it to start a smear campaign against her.
I found Quinn to be such a relatable character. As a person of color, like Quinn, I’ve experienced my own set of microaggressions and it’s something that we often refuse to address outright, especially when it comes from the people around us. For Quinn, writing her lists is almost like a diary where she can get her feelings about these things out. From time to time, I write in a journal, so I felt how violated she did when it was stolen from her. The things we choose to write are not always things we choose to share with others.
There’s also some romance in there, which I also enjoyed. Her moments with Matt, who was her crush until Carter came along, were pretty cute. They spent time hanging out on his trampoline in the backyard and it was such an intimate space for the two of them. It was a space where they could share their thoughts and feelings.
Carter on the other hand is much different than Matt. First off, Carter is Black and Matt is white. While Quinn and Matt get along, it’s clear that Quinn feels more comfortable around Carter and he’s the first Black guy she’s been into at her school. They’re from different backgrounds but the more they spend time together, the more they realize how much they actually have in common.
While I loved Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, my only issue was that Quinn stopped being friends with Destany without even telling her why. I get that she was bothered by some of Destany’s actions that were racially insensitive but, I really felt like she should have talked to her about them instead of ghosting her. Our friends make mistakes quite often but we should be able to tell them when they are acting in a way that makes us uncomfortable. I get that Destany should have known better but, there is nothing wrong with us providing that much needed education from time to time.
One of the other things I wish Quinn had done early on was tell her parents about the cyberbullying. I think if she had told them from the beginning they could have put a stop to the whole thing. I do understand the difficulty of having to face her parents, because if she did go and tell them about the cyberbullying, it would have opened the door for a lot of questions. Her parents would want to know why it was being done and then she would have had to come clean about everything on the list.
I really do think that anyone can enjoy Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, because it’s a story that teaches us to respect people’s boundaries, the ramifications of cyberbullying, and that it’s okay to express our feelings out loud. That’s one of the biggest lessons that Quinn learns, because for the longest time her lists defined everything about her.
All in all, I really liked Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. It was a creative story with a relatable plot and it had some fun and sweet romantic moments as well.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is available now.