Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney 📝 … In BUZZWORDS 💕


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.

Published: May 4th 2021 by HarperTeen

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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.


CW’s: Bullying & Cyberbullying, Blackmailing, Slut Shaming (challenged), Underage Drinking

Representation 🌷 Black MC & LI




Enemies to Lovers 😈💘

“The only reason I brought up Carter was because I know for a fact he’s not the one doing this to you.” “How do you know?” “Because that idiot’s had a crush on you since he started going to school at Hayworth. I think back to the way he treated me the first time he came to my house. “Why is he so mean to me, then?” “Carter’s not the most tactful bulb in the toolbox.”

Quinn & Carter had lots of chemistry and banter. There’s also some opposites attract at play. Quinn is a worrier who doesn’t deal well with the unknown and can come across as a bit upright. I appreciated that we followed a character who struggled at school and wasn’t on track to go to a super prestigious university! Meanwhile Carter is more laid-back and spontaneous, not backing down from a challenge. Their lives are also very different, while Quinn’s family is wealthy, Carter doesn’t have much money and tries his best to support his mother and little sister. Initially Quinn and Carter start out disliking each other, they have to work on a group project together, but neither would have voluntarily chosen to do so. Quinn is frustrated with Carter’s barbs and when he’s the last person to have seen her journal, her suspicions run high. However, he decides to help her figure out who took her journal and work on completing the to-do list her blackmailer posted online, so he doesn’t leak her entire notebook. Working together Carter and Quinn get to know each other and their irritation melts into something more tender. They have some great chemistry and I liked how they challenged each other. There’s some fantastic banter and though he was trying to needle her at first, Carter respects Quinn’s boundaries and tries to understand her! 🥰


List Making as a Coping Mechanism 📝

“I wasted so much time living in fear that I thought I was comfortable, but I was writing in a cage that I didn’t know existed, making lists of all my worries with no intent to do anything about them.”

I LOVE lists so much, so this part of the book really spoke to me. ➽ Quinn keeps all her innermost thoughts and secrets in her journal, it’s literally her most prized possession. For her list making is a coping mechanism against stress and anxiety, coming from the expectations (and the constant fights) of her parents and the fallout with her former best friend. I could relate to that a lot, as Quinn relies on the lists to keep herself organized and in control because she cannot control anything else 🥺 However, when her journal disappears only to be used to blackmail her into doing one of her lists, things spiral out of control. There’s cyberbullying involved and it pushes Quinn to do things she wouldn’t normally do. I like how this storyline was handled, as Quinn got help from unlikely friends that supported her and helped her get out of her comfort zone. As the book goes on, Quinn begins to realize that her journal has become her crutch and without having it for the first time she sees how it was protecting her, but also limiting her. Now, with new experience and confidence she begins to question if the journal began holding her back at some point. I like how her expanding her comfort zone was explored with nuance and with a support system in place! You should expand your comfort zone, but it has to be done with care as otherwise it can be super jarring and stressful. That was done here really well as Quinn has the support to figure out new coping mechanisms!


Strong Female Friendship 🥰

“You look beautiful,” she says, placing her hands on my shoulders, smiling big. “We’ll murder Carter later. Okay?”

Quinn & Olivia form an unlikely friendship! ➽ Olivia is initially brought in by Carter to help them with the blackmail situation and though Quinn is wary, she slowly becomes her friend. Quinn has some guilt over not stepping up to defend Olivia, when she was slutshamed and bullied by their classmates, until she had very few friends. It was a really ugly smear campaign, yet it was empowering to see how Olivia kept going and didn’t let the people who were nasty and jealous get her down. She’s fun, confident and Quinn is relieved to finally have a black friend in her life. All of her other friends (including her estranged best friend) have been white so far and she’s had to endure racist microaggressions that were laughed off. I cannot comment on this aspect, but I appreciated that the author showed Quinn connecting with her community and finding people who understand her in a way her white friends never could. The sisterhood between Olivia and Quinn is great, especially as Quinn tries to do better, after no one stood by Olivia’s side when she needed them.

IN CONCLUSION.Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry was a fun, engaging contemporary with a great hate to love romance and strong female friendship! Tough topics like bullying and stepping outside your comfort zone are addressed with nuance and felt very genuine!

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Did you read Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry? Do you also love making lists? What is your favorite contemporary with the enemies to lovers trope? 💘


8 thoughts on “Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney 📝 … In BUZZWORDS 💕

  1. I didn’t have this book on my TBR because you know with romance I’m never sure, but you sold it to me with “Strong Female Friendship” yes, thank you! Amazing Review, love! ❤️❤️
    You’re going to get some notifications from me, sorry about that 😅✨

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So wonderful to read your review Caro! It sounds like a great book and I love that you have rated the chemistry of the main two character because it normally makes me fly through the book!
    It seems like a really interesting plot too and I love that a strong, unlikely, female friendship is in it as well!! Great review 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Sophie! 💕 The chemistry between the two characters was great and I was really rooting for them!! It was also fantastic to see a strong female friendship be a part of the book as well 🥰 Thank you for reading! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh Caro I love your review so, so much and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book so much! I really loved the characters’ chemistry and the female friendship was so, SO wonderful to read about. Can’t wait to read more from this author! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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