Author: Jeffery Self
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school -- until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship.
Drag Teen is such a fluffy, fun, happy read! JT’s grades suck, and his family isn’t exactly well-off, so he needs a scholarship in order to go to college. He hasn’t had any luck so far, but then his boyfriend tells him about the Miss Drag Teen competition. JT did drag for a school talent show and it ended in disaster, so he hasn’t attempted it since. But drag is what he loves, and this might be his only chance to get out of his small town and live the life that he wants.
Drag Teen is basically a YA To Wong Foo, but with just one drag princess, his boyfriend, and his best friend on a road trip. Basically this means that hijinks ensue and JT learns plenty of life and drag lessons along the way. It has a weird combination of everything that can go wrong does go wrong and far-fetched coincidences, but it worked! One minute the teens are at a crappy motel, the next they’re at a gay bar learning how to do makeup! To say their trip was poorly planned would be an understatement. But the author does address all of the stupid things that JT and Co should have thought of before jumping in the car.
The actual competition part of Drag Teen was fun too, although I wish there had been more! JT really shines once he gets on stage and doesn’t let his worries and insecurities get in the way. Of course, there’s also some cattiness among the other drag teens, but everything becomes sunshine and rainbows toward the end. In fact, everything wraps up way too neatly and happily, but again, it worked. It just fit the happy tone of the book.
In the end, I definitely recommend Drag Teen if fluffy Contemporary YA is your thing. Particularly if you also like roadtrips, friendship, shenanigans, and RuPaul’s Drag Race.