Drag Teen

Jeffery Self

Drag Teen
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Drag Teen

Jeffery Self

A fantastic, fabulous, funny YA debut from Jeffery Self, one of the gay icons of the YouTube generation, that follows one high school student on a drag race to his future.

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 a really fun novel. Unusually, and quite refreshingly, this is not a coming-out novel, but rather a novel about self-acceptance and body image. JT, a queer teen with secret aspirations of drag queendom, just wants to get out of his tiny town and away from his parents, who don’t seem to be particularly concerned about him at all. The ideal solution is, of course, to go away to college, but he has no money and misses out on the scholarship he applies for. Enter boyfriend Seth with a radical idea: JT and Seth, along with bestie Heather, will go on a road trip to New York so that JT can compete in the Miss Drag Teen Scholarship Pageant. JT loves drag, but the one time he tried it he was booed off stage.

Drag Teen certainly contains important themes about acceptance and selfconfidence, but honestly, this is not a serious book. This is a sweet, sparkly bite of fairy-floss of a book and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. There are road trip high jinks, big-city dramas and so many RuPaul’s Drag Race references I’m not entirely convinced that the book isn’t Self’s written application to the show. It’s a really great examination of drag culture that highlights everything good about the world whilst still touching on the darker side of rivalries. There’s a smattering of relationship drama to keep the tension up, but the bulk of the story is focused on JT’s own journey. Such fun, and it has all my favourite things: road trip novel + sassy drag queens + a Dolly Partonesque fairy dragmother = a very happy reviewer. I felt supremely pandered to and I loved every minute of it. Also, I now really want to hang out with Jeffery Self.

Isobel Moore is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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