Queenie (Carty-Williams) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. What were your first impressions of Queenie? Did you like her? Were you surprised to hear the story behind Queenie’s name? How does hearing the story from Sylvie affect Queenie? Do you think that Sylvie chose a fitting name for Queenie? Explain your answer.

2. Queenie tells Tom, "Well, your family; it’s what a family should be" (p. 293). Discuss her statement. What is it about Tom’s family that Queenie finds so appealing? Compare her family to Tom’s. Did you find Queenie’s family to be supportive? Why or why not?

3. Describe the structure of Queenie. What’s the effect of the shifting time frame? How do the flashbacks help you better understand Queenie and her relationship with Tom? Do the texts and emails that are included also help you better understand what Queenie is thinking? If so, how?

4. When Cassandra says that Kyazike’s name is "like Jessica without the ‘ic’ in the middle," Kyazike corrects her, saying, "No. Like my own name. Not some… Western name. Chess. Keh" (p. 170). Explain her reaction. Why is it important for Kyazike to correct Cassandra’s assertion? Why does hearing Kyazike’s name impress Queenie when they first meet?

5. After Queenie pitches an article designed to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter movement, one of her colleagues responds by saying, "All that Black Lives Matter nonsense.… All lives matter" (p. 376). Discuss Queenie’s reaction to this assertion. What’s her counterargument? Why is it so important for her to cover the movement?

6. Gina tells Queenie, "Whenever I’ve had a huge upheaval, my mother has always said, 'Keep one foot on the ground when two are in the air'" (p. 224). Why does she offer Queenie this advice? Were you surprised by the kindness that she shows Queenie? Do you think Gina is a good boss? Would you want to work for her? Why or why not?

7. After a conversation with Darcy, Queenie thinks, "I wished that well-meaning white liberals would think before they said things that they thought were perfectly innocent" (p. 178). What does Darcy say that leads to Queenie’s reaction? Think about the comment. Why is it so charged? How does Darcy’s comment highlight the differences between Queenie’s and Darcy’s experiences?

8. What did you think of Guy? Why does Queenie spend time with him? How does she describe their interactions to her friends? Contrast the reality of their interactions to what Queenie tells her friends. Why do you think that Queenie romanticizes the details?

9. According to Queenie, Darcy, Cassandra, and Kyazike "all represented a different part of my life, had all come to me at different times; why they’d all stuck with me I was constantly trying to work out" (p. 174). What part of Queenie’s life does each woman represent? Describe their friendships. What does each woman bring to Queenie’s life? Do you think that they’re good friends to her? Why or why not?

10. Queenie’s grandmother tells her, "If you are sad, you have to try not to be," causing Queenie to muse that "all of my grandmother’s responses come with a Caribbean frame of reference that forces me to accept that my problems are trivial" (p. 46). How does Queenie’s grandmother deal with problems? How does she react when Queenie broaches the subject of getting counseling, and why?

11. Janet asks Queenie "what do you see, when you look in the mirror, when you think about yourself as a person" (p. 510)? Why is this such a difficult question for Queenie to answer? How would you describe her? If someone posed this question to you, how would you answer it?

12. What did you think of Queenie’s lists? Are they effective in helping her navigate stressful situations? What’s the effect of including them in the novel? How do the lists help propel the story forward? Did you learn anything interesting about Queenie from her list of New Year’s Resolutions? If so, why?

13. Sylvie feels that she "let [Queenie] down, I should have been better to her, that way she might have been better herself" (p. 315). Why did Sylvie leave? How did her departure affect Queenie? Describe their relationship. How does it evolve throughout the novel?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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