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Drag Teen

Review

Drag Teen

DRAG TEEN, the first young adult novel of writer and actor Jeffery Self, follows the adventures of JT, a high school senior from Florida with a fascination for all things drag. While the future of JT’s boyfriend, Seth, looks promising, JT struggles with his own plans for after high school, with unsupportive parents and limited funds. Even after JT’s embarrassing first drag experience at his high school talent show, Seth convinces himto compete in the Miss Drag Teen pageant hosted in New York City, hoping he will win the college scholarship he desperately needs. Together, JT and Seth embark on a crazy road trip to New York City for the pageant, along with their best friend Heather.
From meeting an old country star on their road trip, to making new friends at the competition, JT begins to understand why drag is so important to him, developing both his self confidence and drag skills along the way.
Jeffery Self’s first novel is a humorous and lighthearted take on a topic almost never discussed in young adult books: drag. The references to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the presence of many young LGBT characters are refreshing in a small world of LGBT young adult literature. JT’s complete acceptance of his homosexuality is even more of a breath of fresh air, as often times novels about gay teens focus solely upon their struggles accepting their queerness. JT’s entertaining character is relatable and funny, as he worries if he is good enough for his boyfriend and learns how to use Spanx.
"Jeffery Self’s first novel is a humorous and lighthearted take on a topic almost never discussed in young adult books: drag...similar to the art of drag itself, Self’s novel is beautiful, flashy and slightly ludicrous."
The only time the novel falters is when it attempts to have serious moments. These moments, instead of pushing the reader towards the lessons in the novel, feel cheesy and insincere. Although JT is amusing, he at times lacks depth, as his self revelations are always extremely straightforward. Similarly, Seth and Heather have a lack of character development, as Self instead focuses upon detailing the imagery of the slightly absurd settings in the novel. In particular, Seth’s backstory seems especially implausible, as Self attempts to fit an entire description of Seth’s childhood into one short stop on their road trip. Nevertheless, the ridiculousness of DRAG TEEN is the reason why the novel is such an amusing read. Similar to the art of drag itself, Self’s novel is beautiful, flashy and slightly ludicrous.
The plot never has a dull moment, and the fascinating characters JT meets along the way are hilarious, such as Tina, an old country star who helps JT develop his singing voice and who donates her old costumes to him for the competition.​
 
Fans of Jeffery Self’s other two adult novels or his weekly podcasts will appreciate his first young adult novel. Although DRAG TEEN is catered towards those who are interested in learning more about drag, this novel would also be entertaining for anyone who wishes for a quick read about the themes of love and self acceptance.

Reviewed by Janine C., Teen Board Member on April 26, 2016

Drag Teen
by Jeffery Self