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Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

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Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is the story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance with epistolary elements. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets, leap-off-the-page sexual tension and the enemy-to-lover romantic arc.

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.

368 pages, ebook

First published May 4, 2021

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About the author

Joya Goffney

4 books886 followers
Joya Goffney grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel. With a passion for black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she still resides.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,829 reviews
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
367 reviews264 followers
January 29, 2022
Excuse me while I gush about how much I love this book. Also, the covers for this book are absolutely gorgeous. Talking about book covers has apparently become my thing now.

This book likes to explain things in lists and wow, I loved every single time Goffrey did this. In fact, I was tempted to write this review as a list and start with “Reasons why I love this book,” but I am too unorganized with my thoughts to do that.

Note, this was intended to be a spoiler free review so if there’s anything you feel is a spoiler please let me know and I’ll take it out right away. Thank you so much!

Quinn is a great character, not because she is the brightest (she really isn’t), but because of her realisticness and her growth by the end of the book. Carter (her friend or maybe more? read the book to find out), was a really cool character as well. Their conversations about race was what really stood out to me.

They both struggled with a concept that is not really talked about as much: being an exception to a stereotype. But seriously, why don’t we really talk about it as much as we should? Black people are usually expected to look, talk or act a certain way, and Quinn and Carter show the struggles that can come with being, well, different. I’m glad it's something I’m more conscious of, and it’s even something that we see Quinn’s father struggle with as well. How will these characters overcome these struggles? Read to find out.

There were also many side characters, good and bad, that contributed to Quinn’s growth. We had some flat out racist characters and some characters who were not so obviously racist but made some questionable decisions. Some other friends, are actually really good to her, but are they who they seem? How is Quinn going to realize who her real friends are and will she be able to stand up for herself and call out terrible behavior when she notices them? Read to find out.

Quinn’s relationship with her parents was definitely a great part in the book but she struggles with being open to her parents about a lot of things. How is this family’s relationship going to grow and what will be each person’s role in doing just that? Read to find out.

Yes there is romance in this book and it was so cuutttte. It personally didn’t feel like instant love, which is so important for me because that kind of romance tends to be so unrealistic and a major turn off for me. I wouldn’t consider this a slow burn romance either.

Of course, the mystery part of this book: who is the blackmailer? The answer to that personally didn’t blow my mind, but it didn’t disappoint me because oddly enough, I wasn’t expecting a mind blower. I thought it was fairly obvious and I would love to see if you guys agree.

Overall: This was definitely worth my time!
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
457 reviews377 followers
December 24, 2021
Who gave you the right to attack me this way? Seriously, who?
I am a proud fictional dater.
Stop making me feel like that isn't by choice.

Rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤 4.4

I've come to realize, that the more unrealistic, over the top, and basically all over the place a rom com is, the better chance there is  of me loving it. See, when you first start a book such as this one you already know what's gonna happen. The plot is obvious, the romance is slightly predictable, you basically guess every twist. Overall you're not expecting much. However, you probably end up reading said book, and falling endlessly in love with it. Why? Well, because to be honest, we are all trash for romance. And that comes from a girl who abhors useless romance where it's not needed, or tolerable.

And this brings me to the first subject I shall fangirl over. Because yes, this is going to be one of those reviews where I fangirl excessively and scream more than most. Although, that's what I always do, so maybe I should just shut up and start this review. Yep, let's do that.

Starting with the things I liked and then bombarding everyone with unwanted opinions of things I didn't in fact appreciate.

I need to state that even though the plot was ultimately expected and foreseeable, I would be the filthiest liar if I said that I didn't sip the tea of drama more than once. Helloooo, my life doesn't have drama (thank the moon goddess), I need to leech it out of wherever I can get it. And that includes this book. The pacing was quick and kept me amused and squealing at 2 am, whilst inadvertently forgetting my parents snores in the other room... yeah, it was not nice, but I shall make some sacrifices for the sake of reading. Apart from the non-existent money I keep spending. On books. I even had the urge to buy this after finishing it, because I'm a girl that is scared to death of buying a book and hating it. Then I promised myself (after a thorough investigation of 5 minutes) to read a page and see if I liked it enough to donate some moolah to over powerful people who I wish would somehow send me an inheritance, and I was drooling after page one of this bootiful story so... I ended up reading it in one seating. And forgot to scream at Amazon for a while. Yeah, super smart, I know. There were some parts that frustrated the crap out of me, which I'll mention briefly. That being the fact that the author forgot a certain character for half of the story. A very important character. And yes, my loves, I'll rant about that in the following sections. (seriously? Forgetting the guy? Really?)

The writing was adorable, witty and just plain entertaining. Overall, this book was extremely fun to binge and if I had thought of being swallowed by blankets and with a cup of tea beforehand, it would've been the perfect setting to read this in and experience the sweet nothings of the romance and friendship included within it.

I'll still rant of course. It's a rom com, guys. It is not supposed to have that much substance. *snort* And no, I wasn't being sarcastic. That's literally the recipe for making a YA Rom-Com. (And I stan it so hard. There are many exceptions, but I'll just stick to the first things that came to mind)

~Make both love interests meet.
~Make the protagonist have a reason to not have anything with the love interest.
~Put a lot of obstacles that are semi destructive to their potential relationship.
~Create the MC with slight 'my heart was beating so quickly' problems. I would have them too, to be honest.
~Make YA love interest amazing and with just a tad of flaws.
~Happily ever after.

And not to be repetitive or anything... but I am so here for that. (please forget all those times I wished for one of them to die. It isn't included into this one.)

Did I talk about the characters? Let's talk about the characters. We shall talk about the characters now. Let me just finish trying to remember them.
They are totally not forgettable, my brain is just out for the weekends and I somehow thought writing this review would be a good idea.

Forget about the MC for now, I'll get to her later. I just need to push the love interest off of the metaphorical throne he has taken and shoved its spikes into my heart. Holy water on a pike, Carter. What is wrong with you? Why did you make me like you so incredibly much? Your way of speaking, the form of expression, your brain, sassy alter ego... ways of saying the word 'baby'. Hold up, I need a few therapy sessions to be able to cope.

"What's up, baby?"

I- no. You have no right to do this to me. No right at all.
I liked how he had these flaws that almost broke the romance, especially making him realistic (not, I have never met someone like him. But to be honest, I go out once every two months) I wanted to shake him so badly because some things he did were close to unforgivable, and THEN he would proceed to insert his gorgeous face into the argument and say a few words and bam, Booksy forgives. I'm seriously not this forgivable in real life. He is making me soft, and I hate it. The rough yet gentle tone of his voice, combined with descriptions of his ethereal being- okay, I'll stop. Too many compliments, he already has a big enough head without my wonderful input.


In short, he was outrageously charismatic, indecently smexy and dosed with 'I wish I could have you, you moronic donut'. And yes, I meant that with affection. He needed a certain slap, is all.

The dynamic and conversation between the friend group were at both insightful and dramatic. I felt that.
(as of now I'm working through people's reviews of this book to see if they mention the names of the squad and I am finding none. Darn it. I'll create new names, fine)

Olivia (I remember her)~ Sarcastic extraordinaire. incredible friend, amazing human. I loved her and I loved how she interacted with the MC. Her friendship with Carter. The budding romance of her own... this is what I live for, guys. Background characters who have lives, inspirations, motivations, families of their own, and problems! People have problems, I like seeing that represented.

~ He was the epitome of sweet and caring. Again, his mother and home life were mentioned and even slightly dived into. Brief moments in which his personality had a shine, and I liked that a lot. It's great having an inside scoop into different society issues and knowing, in fact, that the secondary cast are human. Or even living and not rocks.

The MC, oh girl, ahahahahaha, you ain't getting away from me. Firstly, yes, it is really smart to write your personal fantasies about your best friend in a notebook that has no lock in the front, whatsoever, isn't buried beneath 98 feet of soil and that doesn't have a password containing one thousand and five hundred numbers which will be then be coded and made as an input for previously said lock.

No yeah, go ahead. What could go wrong?
Said no sane human eveeerrrrrr.

Seriously, how could you not see a scenario where your notebook would get stolen and thrust into the world's womb without knowing? Alas, burning its fragile self with the lava of the pits of hell. I honestly *slides out machine gun* want to have a small talk with you. You were resilient, a tad bit idiotic and just a small pinch of stupidity was added to your whole persona. Yeah, I liked your existence. One thing that I liked was her strength and compassion, obviously hated the latter in most instances, but I could see the potential. All in all, if you were on a cliff and I had the option to save you, I would throw you a shoelace and if it snapped, oh well. Not that big of a loss.

Hattie, dear Hattie, you made me cry. That's all, I felt everything you said, even though you were only mentioned two or three times. Me? I love you.

Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuun, onto THE thing I despised with every single ounce of life source swimming within me.

No, not him, the ABSENCE of him. So, he was the MC's best friend, right? And he literally was one of the best characters in this book. If he had been mentioned more than five times. And then the author forgot about him from page 5 till the end. Yes, that happened. I'm still confusion.
Excuse me, what?? Did he suddenly disappear into the void? Got eaten and regenerated by carnivorous butterflies?? What. Happened. To. Him. My skin tingled on his appearances. The guy was totes cute, smart, understanding, did I mention cute? And simply deserved better. So yes, I will diminish my rating because of that.

He deserved better, gosh darn it. And his role was literally really important! HE WAS THERE. Oh wait, was he? Or was he a ghost? Hmm?
I won't continue on with him because 1.) it's a spoiler and 2.) I'm still writing fanfiction about his life in my head. Because I'm the only one in this book who actually cared even a smidgen for him.
Uh huh, I'm still going to act like this.

On a closing note, since I want to do something other than stay in bed (nope, I tried, didn't work. Positive thinking is not for me) I shall say that this read tackled a lot of deep topics like racism and such, which surprised me to a degree but was an entertaining addition and invigorating to see them handled as they were. I laughed, cried, swooned and felt myself falling more than once. This story gave me 'binging' vibes and frankly, I felt as if I was on a pillow fort for most of it.
Comfortable and just where I was meant to be.

Oh. my. Goodness. I sounded like the end for a every basic YA book.
Someone throw a piano at my head or something, I cannot go down history like this.

Oh. Em. to the ever loving, hormone wrecking, induced fangirling coma, Gee.

Excuse me while I wipe up drool.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.4k followers
January 25, 2021
What happens when a teenage girl’s journal that includes all of her most personal thoughts goes missing?

Lots of heartbreak, a side of humor, and a whole lot of love.

Quinn is a High School Senior, filled with a little hope and a whole lot of fear. All of which she pours into a journal filled with lists. Lists containing her hopes, her dreams, her fears, and even her deepest darkest secrets. Unfortunately, Quinn’s journal is a spiral bound notebook that looks just like any old notebook and it gets swiped (by mistake) during a study session, by Carter, one of her classmates. The next day at school, Carter inadvertently loses it and all hell breaks loose.

Thereafter, one of Quinn’s lists gets posted to Insta and some of her secrets get out. To make matters worse, whoever stole her journal starts blackmailing Quinn into facing her greatest fears or else. Not knowing where to turn, Quinn decides to trust the last person who had her journal in the first place: Carter.

In doing so, Quinn finds herself, becomes more accepting of others, and owns up to her mistakes.

“Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and seriously sweet novel that deals with some very serious issues and was definitely more than I bargained for. The issues of blackmail, cyberbullying, dementia, gender, marriage, and racism (among others) are prevalent. A character-driven, contemporary novel, that stole my heart and reminded me of days gone by.

“Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” reminded me of my High School days as I did in fact write in a journal. A “Five Star” Spiral Bound Notebook (preferably with a blue or teal cover). I carried it with me everywhere (in school and/or out of school) and I wrote in it all day long. While my classmates noticed and commented on it, no one tried to steal it (thank goodness, lol). I hadn’t thought of it in decades until reading this book and I no longer have them, but reading this brought back the memories and made me laugh. For what it’s worth, I no longer write in journals, I book write reviews instead. :)

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for the digital review copy. As a note, this audio was a synthetic voice and was actually quite good! After the first few minutes, for the most part, I forgot that I was listening to a synthetic voice altogether and was wholly impressed with the quality and would definitely recommend this digital review copy to those who are interested.

Published on Goodreads on 1.25.21.
Profile Image for Kelsey (munnyreads).
74 reviews5,684 followers
April 16, 2022
YA romcom that thoughtfully tackles relevant issues and experiences (CW: racism, cyber bullying) while also celebrating love and authenticity.
Profile Image for kimberly ☆.
195 reviews3,016 followers
March 22, 2022
this book was everything I needed and more. I’m absolutely obsessed with the storytelling and the characters. Quinn is a little too relatable than me, she had very close to home and I absolutely adore her. A lot of the things she’s experienced, I have experiences well. We have pretty similar childhoods in the terms of growing up in predominantly white areas. I love how that was incorporated in the story and her conflicting feelings throughout at all, it just felt very real and raw me. I love Carter so so much he is everything. He is amazing hero and I just love how he atributes his story and livvy was a very enjoyable character for me as well. Olivia was someone I did not expect and I think that her presence in the book really brought aspect to the book that cannot be replaced. Love the romance I love how he grows in blossoms I love how both characters come in terms of their feelings and the scenes that we get like this scene with quinncarter singing Tyrese in the car and he was cradling her jaw with his finger and holding her hand I just love that seems so so much. Overall I am obsessed with this book and I think everyone should read it. It.
Profile Image for Hayley.
166 reviews3,990 followers
August 22, 2022
cried real tears reading this one and felt way too damn much! it’s so so so good🥹
June 15, 2022
4.25 ⭐️ THIS WAS SO GOOD WHAT‼️ not only was the plot interesting but the characters were superior!!!!!! quinn & carter were the perfect combination of banter, friendship, “enemies”, and love. olivia was iconic, I was obsessed w her the whole time. I wish we had a one year after or something epilogue but other than that, *chefs kiss*

“queen jackson I am not worthy” <3
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
857 reviews1,726 followers
January 16, 2022
Such a cute coming of age story.

Quinn has a journal where she writes her darkest secrets, her deepest fears, fantasies, lies, and much more. Never thought that one day she would lose this journal and she was blackmailed for the things she wrote for her eyes only.

I loved how so much was talked about in this small book. Bullying, race, lies one tells to keep appearances, teenage problems, adult problems, couple problems, and so on. The good thing is despite covering so much ground, every thread had a definite end.

An enjoyable read.
Profile Image for JustJJ.
92 reviews126 followers
January 30, 2023
This review and others @Bookerification

Rating: 4 stars

Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (Yellow & Green design)
I love the cute illustrations of Quinn and Carter! The vibrant yellow and green colours make the design even more striking and fitting for the story.

Writing: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
The simple writing remains vivid, clear and engaging throughout. A casual, light-hearted tone is also established, making this book an easy read and enhancing the cute storyline.

"I'm so done with letting pain take the wheel. Now it's time to let love drive."

Storyline: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
An adorable enemies-to-lovers romance unfolds as the two leads work together and get closer. Several relatable moments keep the story engaging and make the characters easy to connect with. Also, themes surrounding race, identity, dementia and bullying are skillfully woven into the storyline without making the narrative heavy or intense. However, once Quinn's journal is found towards the end of the story, my interest waned as the remaining loose ends are leisurely tied to give a satisfying ending.

Main character(s): 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Despite starting off as yet another naive female protagonist, Quinn is shown to be a quirky character who is easy to like. I even loved her lists which add a creative and amusing feature to the story. Besides this, her inner journey as she learnt to embrace herself and her life made her character even more endearing and relatable.

"There are enough closed doors and glass ceilings in the world. My comfort zone shouldn’t be one of them."

Secondary characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Carter Bennett may have given a negative first impression with his judgmental assumptions, but he soon redeems himself. His character is shown to be sweet and caring as he effortlessly brings out the best in Quinn and readily apologises. Olivia and Auden were also notable characters whose friendship with Quinn and Carter stood out as they beautifully supported each other. Lastly, there is little Imani and Quinn's parents, who make the story even more heartwarming.

Romance: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Initial friction between Quinn and Carter is washed away by their undeniable chemistry and cute interactions. Their easy banter and meaningful conversations gradually made their relationship more substantial. Besides, annoying tropes such as drawn-out miscommunications and love triangles are avoided, making it easy to root for them.

Narration: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Narrator Jordan Cobb provides a fantastic voice for Quinn as she conveys the range of emotions the character experiences throughout the story. Everything else, including the shifting vocal tones and pitches, worked well and created a great listening experience.

Ultimately, 'Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry' is more than a light, heart-warming romance. Quinn is given a fantastic self-discovery journey, and several fascinating themes are incorporated to enrich the storyline. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le is a similar read that those who liked this may enjoy.

Profile Image for Grace A..
370 reviews40 followers
September 2, 2022
Have you ever lied about something and hope to God no one ever found out, but you wrote it down in a journal thinking your secret’s safe? That was Quinn’s cooked up recipe for powder keg. Her world was turned upside down when her list journal went missing and fell into the wrong hand. The perpetrator told Quinn to complete a set of tasks and threatened to expose her secrets if she fails. When she protested, the blackmail began, and some of the secrets got leaked in her school.
This book covered quite a bit of grounds, racism, high school drama, rich people problems, blackmail, secrets, cyberbullying, facing fears, trust, loyalty, etc. In the end, It all tied together neatly.
I like the storyline/idea and the awareness of how some of the things we are less conscious about could affect people around us negatively, and regardless of our differences, race, gender, status, etc. We are first and foremost human beings and should treat each other well. 🌟Four stars.🌟
Thanks to the author and NetGalley for giving me an ARC of the audiobook for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Joya Goffney.
Author 4 books885 followers
August 19, 2021
Every time I casually start reading this book, I get sucked back in. I never realize how much I miss the world and the characters and the love until I experience them again :) This book is like my first child, and I'm so, so proud of it :)
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,831 reviews4,659 followers
July 24, 2021
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I read this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and Goffney does a wonderful job introducing some complex themes and character development.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is so much more than the average YA romance/contemporary. It's centered around heroine Quinn who journals in the form of lists. These lists range from her favorites to the boys that she would like to kiss. During a class project with Carter, Quinn realizes that they switch notebooks. Determined to get it back, she tracks down Carter only to realize someone has stolen it from him. Then pictures of her journal end up on an anonymous account on Instagram forcing Quinn to deal with the repercussions of things that she's written.

What's most intriguing about this book is that I feel like it's more about the character development than the plot development. Sure, the characters work together to complete the tasks that this anonymous account is forcing Quinn to do; however, the things that Quinn learns about herself, Carter, and her other friends is more important. Quinn struggles with her Blackness, but not in relation to White people. It's more about what it means to be Black within the confines of the Black community. She feels too Black for White people and too White for Black people. As a result, she doesn't necessarily feel like she fits in anywhere. She struggles with wanting to know or understand what characteristics make someone Black. She also finds it relatively interesting how these characteristics would apply to someone who is biracial. This is evident in her friendship with another character Olivia. I think that Goffney makes it clear that there are no clear parameters and that the Black community is beyond a monolith. Quinn learns to give herself grace and as an adult reader I was proud of this sentiment because no one truly knows who they are as teens. I remember struggling with my Blackness as a teen especially because I was surrounded by mainly White students. Who I was then and how I viewed my Blackness is not how I view my Blackness as an adult.

Another beautiful aspect of this book was the positive representation of Black love. I yell and scream about the importance of Black love in a lot of the adult romances that I read; however, I think that it's important to see this representation in materials targeted at younger audiences. It is clear (and there has been quite a few discussions about this) that a lot of YA books with Black protagonists do not have Black love interests. There is a constant shying away from showing two Black teens in love which should not be a trend in publishing. Black teens deserve to see healthy Black love just as much as adult romance readers like myself. The romance that develops between Quinn and Carter isn't perfect. They both have baggage and they both have walls built up due to assumptions they've made about each other; however, with time things change. One thing that I loved about their relationship is the fact that Quinn doesn't instantly forgive Carter when he makes a mistake. She doesn't make him grovel per say; however, she makes it clear that she knows and understands her self worth; therefore, Carter should always treat her with the same level of respect. It was both beautiful and important to see.

Overall, this was a great book. I'm excited to see what other books Goffney will write in the future.
Profile Image for Jessica.
324 reviews362 followers
December 24, 2020
I enjoyed Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. The story is interesting, and I liked how race was discussed in this book. Quinn starts the story without any black friends. Throughout the book she makes some black friends and talks about how nice it is to have friends that understand what you are going through. Quinn has made a lot of mistakes and all of them are written in her notebook. However, I still really liked Quinn. She is trying to do her best and make everyone happy. I liked reading about her trying to get her notebook back before all her secrets are revealed. She turned to some unlikely allies and developed new friendships.

Thank you Harper Teen, Harper Collins, NetGalley and Edelweiss for Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry.
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
467 reviews649 followers
November 30, 2020
I was lucky enough to listen to an audiobook arc in exchange for review courtesy of Harper Audio and made a list in honor of the list format of this book on why you should read it.

Reasons You Should Read Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

Black Girl Lead navigating a predominant white school
Black Teen Enemies to Lovers Romance
Black Girl Friendships
Complicated parent relationships
Journal Writing

See full review here
Profile Image for Henrietta.
91 reviews22 followers
June 25, 2022
Summary; cute
I listened to the audiobook on Scribd (highly recommended) and then read an e copy briefly

I liked everything about this
Relatable struggles teenagers might have with friends especially with different races
No smut just so much cuteness
It was great
I liked the topics of race, cyber bullying, parental struggles and how they were all handled

I also liked how the writing of lists was incorporated into the story . Neatly blended

Yes I recommend this for anyone looking for a fun read that’s not too heavy despite the topics in the storyline
Profile Image for Taylor.
511 reviews201 followers
January 13, 2021
I first wanted to say thank you to the author for giving me an arc of this book on NetGalley!
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did since the description sounds a bit cheesy, but it was anything but. It had great characters, and believable hardships they had to go through. I wasn't expecting the book to delve as deeply as it did into racism and how difficult and confusing it is to be a Black person around mostly white people and how it feels to be an outsider. I found myself actually relating to some of the instances Quinn went through.
I also loved the character growth of Quinn. It was very visible and I feel like instead of just being told that she was changing we could actually observe that on our own.
Profile Image for Sheena.
576 reviews255 followers
February 15, 2021
Quinn keeps a journal and makes a list of literally everything. From the most mundane things to the most embarrassing. One day, her journal is stolen and she is black mailed into facing her seven greatest fears otherwise the entire journal will go public. I used to keep a journal too so this reminded me a lot of those days but I would never bring a journal into my school. I still like making lists like Quinn too, especially to feel productive.

Anyway, I liked this and mostly enjoyed the friendship between Quinn and Olivia. The romance didn’t do much for me, it was sweet but I didn’t connect to it too much. It felt a little cheesy and predictable. There was something off with the pacing just because I felt like it tackled a lot of different issues. Racism, family, and the pressures of parents expectations with getting in college. The different feelings of being a teenager were depicted pretty well. All of these were good issues to discuss in a YA novel but it felt kinda scattered to me. The audiobook was read by a synthetic voice and that was terrible. I wish Netgalley would stop doing that.

Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.
Profile Image for Brittany (whatbritreads).
538 reviews1,048 followers
July 2, 2021
This book felt like a warm hug. I honestly don’t have a single bad thing to say about it. I literally couldn’t put it down and managed to read it in just two sittings – I was that obsessed. This just exceeded all of my expectations and then some. A beautiful reminder of why I love YA contemporary so much.

This whole book felt so relatable and I’m obsessed. The plot managed to be simultaneously fast paced and engaging, while still maintaining depth and feeling well developed. It was a really fun read and I think the formatting was done perfectly, it wasn’t too journal heavy, but the lists still played a significant role, and they were perfectly executed. I also liked the little hint of mystery in here, I genuinely couldn’t actually predict what was coming next which made it all the more enjoyable for me.

The characters in here were so loveable. I’m literally obsessed with the friendship group in here. It was full of such wholesome interactions and I really just enjoyed how their different personalities bounced off one another so well. I loved seeing genuine female friendships and people being forced to apologise for their wrongdoings, moving forward in a positive and healthy way. These girls have my entire heart. The romance as well was just absolutely beautiful. The tension, the build-up, the chemistry… it just worked. There were so many moments of pure joy in here it melted my heart. Have I expressed how much I loved it enough yet?

I really appreciated the openness of the conversations in this book and how much character development our protagonist had gone through by the end. There were really important conversations around identity, class, racism and internalised racism that were so genuine and really helped the reader connect and understand the characters better. It was really well done, and I think a lot of people are going to read this and see themselves in it.

Read this book right now, or else.
Profile Image for Nneoma.
77 reviews12 followers
October 3, 2021
As soon as I started this I wanted to dnf. Carter and Quinn were annoying for the first 60% of the story and a lot of the stuff surrounding race felt overdone and unnecessary. I didn’t like how the driving force behind the already lacking plot was the drama surrounding the journal that was barely talked about and loosely resolved. Also did Matt just cease to exist beyond the halfway mark? There was so just much conflict that was brushed over. Overall I guess it was cute.
Profile Image for trina (ryke meadows wife).
111 reviews84 followers
September 19, 2022
4.5 stars!
WOW. I think everyone should read this book. The plot was very interesting, but I wasn’t solely focused on it. I was more focused on the important topics this book touched on and the friendship between Quinn, Olivia, Carter and Auden. The writing was so good, I pictured some scenes in this book clearly.

The plot:
Quinn writes her deepest secrets in her journal and one day, her journal is missing. The person who has her journal is now threatening to expose all of her secrets, unless she follows their rules. Since Carter is the last person to have her journal, he decides to help Quinn. During this, Quinn comes to terms with adversities in her life she needs to face. But she also finds love.

What I loved:
Quinn was very uncomfortable around her white friends, Gia and Destany because they labeled her as an “ Oreo”. They said this because they don’t see her as a black woman, so they make racist jokes around her because of this. Excessive use of the derogatory terms that are used against Black people, completely dismissing that she is still BLACK. It doesn’t matter if she has a bunch of white friends, she is still BLACK. I always thought that if I have friends who are not people of color, it’s so important that they acknowledge our differences, not dismiss them. That we will be treated differently because of our race. This book sheds light on that and that was so great to read. When Quinn finally explained to one of her old friends that, that is NOT okay, it seemed like she didn’t understand at first. But I’m reading it like.. Quinn, I UNDERSTAND. I loved Quinn’s and Olivia’s friendship. How Quinn felt so confident after Olivia straightened her hair. Just watching how comfortable she felt around Olivia after feeling misplaced in her old friend group was good for my soul. 🫶🏾 In her list of reasons why she wished her and Olivia would’ve been friends sooner, two stuck out to me. She said that she felt more welcomed in Black spaces being around her. That Olivia makes her feel okay to show parts of her that are rooted in her Blackness, and it truly did show!

The romance was very cute, I was blushing so much. The scene where Quinn was super drunk and asked Carter if she’s sexy… ”Quinn, you’ve always been beautiful. You know that.” THIS WILL LIVE IN MY MIND RENT FREE.
Even though this book covered some sensitive topics, it was still so funny. I could not stop laughing at some parts. This is one of those books where you WISH you could read it for the first time again.
Profile Image for Madita.
499 reviews17.4k followers
September 2, 2021
Okay so not only was the title the best thing to ever exist but the plot was so good.

Quinn’s character development as well as confidence growth were amazing.
Her relationship with Carter was adorable. It came just at the right time and wasn’t out of the blue.
Olivia was my favorite. She was kind and forgave Quinn for her mistakes without holding a grudge.
She helped Quinn so much throughout the book to accept herself.
Quinn’s relationship with her parents wasn’t very good in the beginning but you could tell that they were trying to work together and heal, especially when her grandma was involved.
Racism was also a big part of the plot and I really liked how Quinn stood up for herself against her old friends and left them behind.

Yes I loved this book.
Profile Image for Korrie’s Korner.
1,032 reviews13.7k followers
April 30, 2021
3.5-4 stars

This book was good. I’m not a huge YA fan, but I knew that this book was important to read. What happens when a very important/private list goes missing in the journal it was written in? What happens when that journal is found, and the person that finds it uses it to blackmail you? This book touches everything from racism, racism in high school, to cyber bullying. So much drama! Lol.

I think this book would be especially good for teens in helping them see how our words and actions can
Deeply affect someone no matter what they look like on the outside, we truly battle the same type issues.
Profile Image for ♥Milica♥.
817 reviews241 followers
May 16, 2021
"My ugly cry is especially ugly. My tears spurt out like a broken fire hydrant."


A contemporary romance has to be exceptional for me to a) remember it for a long time and b) love it so much I want to cry. And this one marks the spot.

Quinn is a high school senior who makes lists of things she wants to do, things she's too scared to do, things she's done and is ashamed of and a bunch of miscellaneous ones as well.

She keeps them in a beloved journal that goes missing. Soon enough, Quinn is blackmailed into doing things from one of her lists or else the person holding her journal hostage will reveal more than just one list on their anonymous Instagram account for the whole school to see.

Suspects range from friends to enemies, and Quinn isn't sure who to trust. But with the help of the boy who lost her journal in the first place, she may find the answers she seeks.

Books like this one are why I doubt I'll ever "grow out" of YA. They're a joy to read at any age. And now I think I sound older than 22-MOVING ON.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is one of those books that hooks you within the first few pages and Does. Not. Let. Go.

I fell in love with the world, the story and the characters. OH HOW I LOVE THE CHARACTERS! They're perfect. But not perfect-perfect, they have imperfections of course, I mean they're so easy to love.

Quinn can be insecure and anxious, but she's not annoying in her insecurity like a lot of main characters can be. She hides behind her journal for a lot of her life, but inside there's a lion waiting to burst out.

Matt grabbed my attention sooner than Carter because he got a better/more important intro scene and he was very sweet. I had a hard time picking who I shipped Quinn with in the beginning and my one complaint is that there wasn't nearly enough Matt in the book (for someone who is one of Quinn's closest friends)...

Carter was amazing in his own way and good for Quinn. He does most of his growing near the end though, you'll see what I mean when you read it (WHICH YOU SHOULD!). His love for Imani is freaking adorable too. And his overall protectiveness of all things Quinn.

Olivia is my absolute favourite character though. I would love if she got her own book one day. Her entrance is like a hurricane and she doesn't stop slaying. She's a real friend who'd stand by you through thick and thin. We all need an Olivia in our lives.

Auden, Hattie and Imani are close behind on the love-love-love train. After them it's everyone else. Gia at the very bottom because I can't stand her. But I appreciate her character.

The characters all seem like real people so it's not hard to connect with their struggles and (ugly) cry along with them. And I did cry. A lot.

As for the romance it was heartwarming and I loved it. There's definitely more than kissing going on though, like this one scene that I won't spoil but it's nice for the upper YA crowd since Quinn is 18.

The fact that she's older is also very apparent by how her parents treat her. They still have restrictions, but they're trusting her that she's an adult now, for the most part.

Anyway, this is a book about conquering your fears and it shows you that you can be a warrior like Quinn and deal with everything that's bugging you, one step at a time.

Rightfully so, one of my most anticipated books of the year delivers. I'll be rereading this for many years yet to come.

P.S. THAT COVER! *chef's kiss*
Profile Image for Roz.
351 reviews174 followers
August 21, 2022
5 ⭐️


I’m sooo mad at myself for not reading this book earlier!! I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year, if not ever tbh!

It’s beautifully written and does a great job covering serious issues (racism & cyber bullying).

genuinely an amazing book!<3 rtc
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,007 reviews15.7k followers
December 29, 2020
A thought provoking young adult contemporary brimming with humor and heart. Joya Goffney’s debut addresses issues such as racism and bullying with a thoughtful and gentle hand. Quinn is a list maker. She has a list for everything in her journal -The boys she wants to kiss, the bad things she has done, the things she wants to do before she graduates high school, her hopes, her dreams.... When Quinn‘s journal goes missing she is convinced it must be Carter (a boy she’s not sure of) who has it, after all he was the last one with her before it went missing. BUT then Quinn is blackmailed and Carter is determined to help her. Can she trust him though? what follows is a sweet story about coming to terms with who you really are, learning that you cannot judge people at first sight, and taking responsibility for your actions.

In honor of Quinn here is a list of reasons why you should read this book:

Quin is a likable relatable character, flaws and all.
Carter is a sweet guy that will steal your heart.
The subject of race and racism is handled particularly well in the story. It is never preachy but betrayed very realistically. Gave me a lot to think about.
I also really liked the family dynamics in the story. It was really interesting about how different families have different expectations and how suffocating that can sometimes be.
The Romance in the Story was super adorable. Nothing better than first love.
Quinn and Carter had some pretty fabulous friends.

This book comes out in May 2021, so be sure to add it to your TBR. There is no better palate cleanser than a good sweet young adult contemporary.

*** Big thank you to Harper Teen & Harper Audio for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

🎧 The audio version I was given of this book was narrated by a synthetic voice, therefore I will not be offering any feedback on the narration in particular. However I do have to say this is a pretty good synthetic voice for anyone who reviews audios.
Profile Image for elhyza.
237 reviews276 followers
July 29, 2022
4.5☆ — this was such an incredibly done ya contemporary with our main, quinn going about rediscovering herself coming out of her comfort zone after she gets blackmailed with her private journal along with finding true friends and even romance in the midst of it all. i emphasized and related with quinn so much in terms struggling with coming out of her shell and figuring herself out. i admired her so much, even though it was under the difficult situations of being blackmailed, her bravery in finally doing the things she listed out to do and how it contributed to her phenomenal character development. the story has so much coming of age feels to it, being senior year and quinn going about new adventures through the story with her newfound friendships with olivia, auden, and carter.

quinn's friendship with olivia was so endearing, how she finally found someone that she can be real with and coming to terms in embracing her black identity rather than her former toxic white friends. speaking of carter, even if their romance was a bit instant at first, the chemistry and tension jumped off the pages, had me smiling ear to ear! the way quinn's conversations opening up to him you can tell just much more genuine with feedback from carter in comparison to conversations with her old crush. but the romance was also well done with when secrets and things unraveled between them and i really just loved how authentic it felt with their development basically being given a fresh restart emotionally. goffney also weaved in aspects of family life, in how quinn's parents' relationship affected her, along with quinn's relationship with her grandma shaping her.

i highly recommend this book, a fresh unexpected debut being an honest coming of age story with layered characters, easy to absorb high school drama, family dynamics, teenage adventures, and a perfectly imperfect romance!
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
837 reviews135 followers
May 29, 2021
High school senior Quinn is devastated when her journal goes missing, even more so when she begins to be blackmailed by whoever took it. She teams up with Carter, the last known person to have her journal, in an attempt to get it back.

This was a really fun book! I really connected to Quinn and seeing her growth was lovely. I haven’t read many novels with the blackmailing trope, but I thought this one was executed very well. The balance between real-life, common issues and Quinn’s unique issue as well as the romance plot was good, too. Read this if you like YA romances and want something original!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
December 24, 2020
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry was a pretty good book to dive into. In it, you will meet Quinn. She tends to write almost anything and everything in her journal. Some uncover the truth to her lies.. and other things are a bit more personal. So in a way, this journal is her everything and her life turns upside down when it goes missing.

Quinn was a pretty likable character. I wouldn't necessarily say relatable to me, personally, because I think I last wrote in a journal when I was like 5 or 6. Found it a couple of years ago and died from laughing so hard at what I wrote. Nothing was personal - it was just funny. Besides that, the whole crying once per week thing seems like a lot of tears to shed. Maybe she's just that emotional.. whereas, I don't think my family can count on one hand how many times I've cried.

I have no soul.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the topics this book mentioned. Especially racism because that is still happening today. So it was interesting to see how she, and anyone else, was going to handle it. Plus the blackmailing kept me on my toes because I didn't know who actually did it until it was revealed. Maybe it's because of the audio/narrator's voice and I just wasn't catching onto some hints. Or I don't know.. maybe it's the rain making me sleepy. Either way, I never caught on.

In the end, definitely enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone!
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