Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that in Joya Goffney's Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, 18-year-old Quinn, a Black girl in a predominately White high school in Austin, Texas, is blackmailed after her journal falls into the hands of a mystery person. The blackmailer threatens to make the journal public unless Quinn completes every item she's written on a to-do list: "Things to Do Before I Graduate." There's a conversation about a woman who had one partner who cheated on her and another who beat her. Underage teens intentionally get drunk at a party and have hangovers. Teens discuss adults rumored to be using meth. There's an implication that a teen boy has a lot of sleepover sexual partners. A girl and boy share a few romantic kisses, and the girl muses about going further. Occasional profanity includes "s--t" and "f--k." Instragam figures in the plot.
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What's the Story?
When EXCUSE ME WHILE I UGLY CRY begins, Quinn, a Black teen, loses her notebook, a collection of lists about her life. These lists contain a lot of sensitive material, including sexual fantasies, secrets she's keeping from her parents, and feelings about race relations with the classmates in her predominately White high school. Carter, another Black student (and her secret crush) was the last person to have the book in his possession, so she enlists him to help her find it. Before they do, someone blackmails her. They threaten to post the entire notebook online, and they post one list to Instagram to show they mean business. The blackmailer demands Quinn complete the to-do list "Things to Do Before I Graduate," the list of her greatest fears.
Is It Any Good?
Funny and clever, this book captures that time near the end of high school when everything is up in the air. In Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, debut author Joya Goffney checks all the boxes: crushes, rising sexual urges, death of a beloved elder, parental conflict, high school cliques, college admissions pressure, experimenting with alcohol, and finding allies among your teachers. The author manages to squeeze it all in authentically, the way it happens in life. Even the familiar types of high school villains evoke our empathy; they're presented as people who make the wrong choices not "bad" people. The one shortcoming is the predictability of the romance. Seeing it coming is part of the fun, but there could have been more tension and surprise as the relationship unfolded.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fear of change in Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. How do you stay anchored when things change in your life?
The main character in Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry makes lists, on paper and in her head, to soothe her anxieties. Do you have any techniques for helping yourself get calm?
Secrets are a major theme in Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. What kinds of secrets are harmful? What kinds of secrets are useful?
- Author: Joya Goffney
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: harper teen
- Publication date: May 4, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 15, 2022
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