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!
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 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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