3 Great YA Books About Drag

Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

Hawk by James Patterson.

A story for a new generation of Maximum Ride fans! 17-year-old Hawk is growing up hard and fast in post-apocalyptic New York City . . . until a perilous destiny forces her to take flight. Hawk doesn't know her real name. She doesn't know who her family was, or where they went. The only thing she remembers is that she was told to wait on a specific street corner, at a specific time, until her parents came back for her. She stays under the radar to survive...until a destiny that's perilously close to Maximum Ride's forces her to take flight.

Thanks to the growing popularity of drag shows in mainstream media, from scripted TV and reality shows to drag queen storytime performances in libraries, drag is even making its way into YA fiction, taking center stage in the plots and stories. If you’ve never been to a drag show, or maybe you just want to learn more about the art and performance, then pick up one of these three recent YA books about drag!

cover image of The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This Stonewall Book Award winner is about Michael, a Greek-Jamaican teen growing up in London who knows he’s gay, but has a hard time figuring out where he fits in—he never feels “enough.” Then he discovers the university Drag Society and his persona the Black Flamingo is born as he finds a place where he can be just himself. This is a gorgeous novel in verse from a celebrated poet that touches on family, friendship, and falling in love with a community and discovering yourself.

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Nima is a shy, biracial lesbian who is still grappling with her mother’s abrupt absence in her life when she heads to her small town’s local summer festival and stumbles upon a drag performance. She’s enchanted, not only by the performance but by the confidence and talent of the performers. As she makes friends with a kind and generous drag queen and falls for one of the kings, Nima also has to confront the tumultuous emotions caused by her mom leaving, and find the confidence to take to the stage herself. This is a heartwarming novel that celebrates identity and exploration.

Death Prefers Blondes

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

This book is less about performing in traditional drag shows and is actually a fun romp about a group of teens who are just as comfortable pulling off fabulous heists while in drag as they are attending drag shows and socializing in L.A. Margo, a socialite, is the leader of a merry band of young men who assist her high-stakes Robin Hood–esque thefts, but when she gets in over her head with her latest mission, she and her friends have no choice but to pull off the ultimate heist in order to protect their identities and their lives.

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