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Drag Teen

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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.

261 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2016

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About the author

Jeffery Self

6 books114 followers
Jeffery Self is a writer and performer based in Los Angeles. He recently co--wrote and starred in "You're Killing Me", a feature film distributed by Wolfe Releasing. He was the co-creator and star of "Jeffery and Cole Casserole" on Logo (with Cole Escola). He has appeared in various television shows such as 90210, Difficult People, Hot In Cleveland, Shameless, and 30 Rock. He has produced/written on "Billy On The Street", "Gay Of Thrones", and "Rupaul's Gay For Play". He is the author of three books: "Straight People: A Spotter's Guide", "Fifty Shades Of Gay", and "Drag Teen". He hosts a weekly podcast called "This Is Really Important" on iTunes.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 329 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
606 reviews196 followers
December 23, 2022
Remember the first time you released your inner-most self? Knowing you, to your very core; adoring and admiring that person so much it had to be celebrated---the joyful, buoyant feeling had to be released, good vibes to everyone. Imagine being in that moment when a hate-filled, bitter person brings contempt so tangible that the light is smothered; the joy stolen. Because most of us have experienced that, it is almost intuitive to empathize with JT’s predicament.

His parents do not support his desire to attend college after high school. They appear offended by his plan, as if his ambition is as an affront to the lives they lead. Rather than seeing and hearing their son, they seem to have created a persona of an ungrateful, arrogant brat that is easy to dismiss. But JT has Seth, and Seth has a plan.

A Drag Teen pageant is being held for high school seniors needing financial aid for college; the prize—a full scholarship. The idea of being a Drag Teen doesn’t bothers JT, the terror doing it again, with the same results is paralyzing. With the support of his boyfriend, their best friend Heather and an assortment of souls along the way, JT tackles the terror.

I was amused, delighted and entirely invested in this story. The combination of blue-collar parents, an over-the-top, former country music sensation, teen-agers and Drag Queens is quirky in the best possible ways and works wonderfully for JT’s journey to New York City and self discovery.

This review was written for Buried Under Books by jv poore.
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,038 followers
June 5, 2018
Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little gay kid who loved to sneak into his mother's bedroom to slather on her ruby lipstick; who loved to slip his feet into his older sister's strappy high heels—that he could barely walk in, but gave him such a rush when he wore them; who would take T-shirts and wrap their necklines around his head so he could fling them around like wigs, and wrap towels around his body like they were red carpet couture. He would prance around his room then, as if he were on a runway of his own making.

The kid didn't know why he felt so liberated when he did all these things, so much more confident than he would be if he were just wearing regular "boy" clothes, like everyone around him expected him to. He didn't understand why "drag queens" in his home country of Indonesia were practically social pariahs; the only times he'd see them would be when they're walking the streets from car to car, begging for spare change. He didn't understand why his family told him to fear them, to condemn them, to see them as abnormal. He didn't understand why he wasn't allowed to wear skirts or wigs or heels or makeup, and why he had to stifle those urges because he was supposed to be "macho".

Fortunately, his family's corrupted thoughts and closed-minded views never burrowed into his own mind, and as he grew older he discovered a little show called RuPaul's Drag Race that further opened his eyes. Then the sequined door burst open fully and out came Paris is Burning, To Wong Foo, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Kinky Boots and suddenly the kid was immersed in something that he had a passion for, that gave him endless amounts of joy and laughter and self-empowerment.

He learned the different styles of drag, from pageant to campy to comedy to club kid and many more unique ones. He learned that drag could be considered a career, an art form, a perfectly-manicured middle finger to societal gender norms, but above all, a vehicle for self-expression. A way to fully unlock that inner confidence in yourself that may need an extra push.

That kid, of course.... was Nikki Blonsky from the movie Hairspray.

I'm just kidding, it was me.

I may be a little over-dramatic when I say this, but I feel like this is the book I've been waiting to read my entire life. Just from that story alone, I'm sure you could understand why this book had such a big impact on me. There was so much riding on this; I hyped this book up in my mind, all the while worrying it wouldn't measure up, that it would disappoint me. But as you can tell from that rating, I am just so relieved at how all of my expectations were met.

This book, very much like drag itself, made me happy. And I realize that a huge reason why that is is because it hits so close to home for me, so of course there's no way for me to review this book in an unbiased way. Perhaps many of you who read this book that don't have a personal connection to drag won't really be as attached to it as I became. Or on the opposite side of that, perhaps those of you who are actually more experienced in the world of drag than I am—maybe you do drag professionally yourself—probably notice the little inaccurate, unrealistic details in this book that I missed. I don't claim to have an extensive knowledge on drag, since my living in Indonesia prevents me from actually being able to do it—at least in public—but I really appreciated not only the representation within this book, but also the overall message.

Self-confidence. Like I said, that is one of the most important and valuable things drag can do for a person, especially someone who struggles with crippling self-esteem issues, much like myself and the main character of this book, JT. We're both chubby guys who are often down on ourselves, don't see our self worth, and it's tough. More so because we're gay guys, and there's this high expectancy within the community that gays have to always look their best and physical attraction is very important among us. Getting in drag, for a lot of us, helps us unleash that fierce creature that we keep caged within us in our daily lives. And beyond that, it's just really fun to say "fuck you" to the concept of gender norms.

I know that Fifty Shades has forever ruined the term "inner goddess" for all of us, but this book actually brought it up a few times. If we can just pretend Anastasia Steele never existed, I feel like that is very much the essence of drag, to reveal the inner goddess in ourselves that helps us in developing self-love. Why do you think RuPaul always says "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?" at the end of every Drag Race episode?

I realize this review is a mess cause I've barely talked about the book itself, but hey, this is just my legit emotional reaction to it. As far as the actual book goes, I really connected with JT because I saw a lot of myself in him. I also related to Heather due to her struggles with weight, and how she often felt like the third wheel. I loved JT's boyfriend, Seth, who is an absolute sweetheart who's always eager to help and wants to see JT be more confident. Some people may get a kind of "Manic Pixie Dream Gay" vibe from Seth, but I just thought he's a really good person with his own set of flaws, and I'd kill to have a Seth in my own life.

Another thing about Seth I loved was that he was actually the one who encouraged JT to pursue drag. Why this was important was because there's such a stigma with dating drag queens in the gay community. You have no idea how often the phrase "He's so hot, too bad he does drag" or something similar is uttered. For some reason, there's this idea that doing drag somehow makes you less desirable to other gay men. There are a lot of exceptions to this, of course, and Seth is a great example of that exception. There should be more guys like him, who love someone drag and all. Shows like Drag Race have definitely helped in getting rid of this stigma.

But yeah, I really dug all three of them and connected with them on their little road trip. The first half of this book gave me such Priscilla and To Wong Foo vibes with the whole road trip thing and meeting colorful characters along the way. It's definitely very different, since technically only JT is the one doing drag whereas those two movies consist of three drag queens going on a road trip, but it gave me that same vibe nonetheless and I think that's what the author was going for. The second half of the book was the New York part, and I had some little gripes about a few of the characters there being a little too stereotypical, like Pip (the hippie) and Tash (the mean girl), but they didn't really bother me that much.

And yes, I realize that looking back, the structure of this book is like a stereotypical feel-good movie, complete with convenient scenarios but it just worked, in my opinion. It was paced very nicely, and I hope someday it DOES get picked up as a movie. I definitely would love to see some of the Drag Race girls having roles in it, too. Bianca Del Rio would make for an amazing Lady Rooster.

I'm just so happy. I'm happy that this book exists and I'm happy that it's actually good. I'm happy that this book captured a big part of what drag is all about; unlocking the ability to love yourself, even if it takes a fifty pound wig and a fully beat face to do it.

To the author, Jeffery Self, if you're miraculously reading this review at this very moment, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for introducing the magical world of drag into YA fiction, because it sorely needed it. I wish I could go back in time and give this book to my younger self, because I know he sorely needed it, too.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,015 reviews919 followers
May 5, 2017
3.5 so I am rounding it up to a 4. I really wish Goodreads would make half ratings!

I picked up this book because I am a teacher, so I try to read as much YA as possible. However, I am just like a student because I picked up this book because I thought the cover looked really cool.

The main character was an insecure high school senior who had one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The book starts off with him having trouble trying to find a way to pay for college. His boyfriend and best friend convenience him to go on a road trip to New York City where he would compete in a Drag Teen competition for a scholarship.

This book was very entertaining but extremely unrealistic. First off, they lie to their parents about going to NYC and tell them they are going to a different part of Florida. Then they have multiple mishaps that turn out great! They have a flat tire, but no spare, so a random celebrity picks them up and lets them sleep at her house. She also happens to have great costumes for the main character to where in the competition and gives him the confidence to sing in front of the judges. Also, she gives them hundreds of dollars and helps them get a new tire. After this all happened they apparently are ahead of schedule so they take a detour to Maryland, so the boyfriend can see his old hometown.

Like I said, the book was very entertaining but extremely unrealistic.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
489 reviews239 followers
November 6, 2018
Listened to the audio book and would recommend it over reading, if possible. A very cute, fun ride of a book. I loved it and if you're looking for some light, fun reading I couldn't recommend it more!!
Profile Image for Renata.
2,451 reviews329 followers
May 7, 2016
This is probably like a 3-star book but I'm awarding a bonus star because I like to feel pandered to, and I know my Drag Race-loving teens will also enjoy feeling pandered to by this.

It's a little cut-and-dried--the setback/solution formula of the roadtrip, the realizations that everyone has their insecurities and yet everyone is beautiful in their own way...but it's got some pretty good jokes and some A+ drag teen names.

Solid pick for teens looking for fun queer fiction where nobody dies!
Profile Image for Online Eccentric Librarian.
2,839 reviews5 followers
April 26, 2016
More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

Although I enjoyed Drag Teen, I admit to feeling somewhat ambivalent about the story and characters. The themes that emerged were: dealing with weight issues and hiding who you really are (whether through a drag persona, not being true to oneself, or radically remaking yourself to be different than who you were in the past). It all felt so shallow - especially considering how many really good LBGT books came out last year (Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Better Happy Than Not, etc.). It was missing an edge, a spark, an angle, or even a good romance. I'd categorize it more as a pleasant fairy tale where 3 teens can pop into a car, tell their parents they are going to the neighboring city, but instead drive from Tampa to NYC and only encounter a flat tire and some stolen drag costumes as difficulties. It's lovely and enjoyable, a sweet little Hershey's kiss of a book.

Story: JT lives a somewhat insulated life - his mother spends all day on QVC, his father is absent even when home, and most of the kids at school pretty much ignore him since (he believes) he's too overweight to be popular. But JT has the hottest guy in school as his boyfriend and a great best friend Heather who is also dealing with self image issues and weight. JT wants to go to the university with boyfriend Seth but his family is too poor to send him; Seth hits on a contest in NYC with a prize large enough to pay for JT's education. But JT had a bad experience already when he dressed up in drag and sang "Part of Your World" at the school talent show. Will he have enough courage to drive across the US in order to compete? Or will his self doubts bury him once and for all?

I'd like to say the story is about an amazing road trip; but honestly, the story is about JT finding the four requirements in order to win the contest: Glamor, Artistry, Heart, and Soul. He conveniently finds each of those along the way and by the time he arrives in NYC, he's had professional makeup tips, a full wardrobe of the best wigs and drag costumes ever, two very supportive friends, and even hundreds of dollars extra. It read almost like the the fairy godmother of gay teens had tapped her wand and bestowed everything JT needed, along with the support from hot boyfriend and best buddy girl to propel him to self confidence and drag queenship. It felt more Wizard of Oz than journey of discovery.

There were several off-notes that were more likely to be from an adult looking back on being a teen than not-too-bright JT would notice. In those, I heard actor/author Jeffery Self's autobiography more. Lines such as observing that once college is done, no one ever takes a test again, so what's the point of testing in high school as well as musings about what life must have been like for a gay man in the 1970s felt far too introspective to a kid spending all his time moping about his weight, how he doesn't deserve his great boyfriend, and how his family is too distracted by a petty life to give him support

At times, I kept wishing for a POV in the story. Either an adult quipping about the teen years, some kind of conflict other than annoyances or moping self doubt, more insight into the drag world, or something interesting. But Drag Teen is a straightforward slice of life with a lot of self doubt from JT and Heather thrown in. As well, when someone is given nearly everything he needs throughout the story (without having to do much for it himself other than just existing or chancing upon it), it's nearly impossible to make the journey of self growth meaningful. JT shows up, things are thrown at him (money, wigs, outfits, places to stay, companionship), he moves on. Side characters Seth (the boyfriend) and Heather ( best bud girl) are pretty much 2-dimensional characters, so lightly sketched that they are only serving to make JT seem even more self absorbed. It's a shame - they really could have used more rounding out and each characters' moment of clarity was briefly discussed then completely forgotten.

Drag Teen is a very light and breezy read, easily finished in a couple of hours. Although I was looking for more from the book, I do appreciate that it is refreshing the only conflict of being gay in this book is that other guys hit on JT's boyfriend and it makes him jealous. It is, therefore, perhaps a book very much of its time - when being gay is less problematic than being overweight. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Noura.
396 reviews80 followers
July 9, 2016
This book was a hot mess and I LOVED it. The beginning was a bit rough and I was about to stop because I was over the characters after chapter one but I continued because a) drag queens b) no, really drag queens c) did I mention drag queens?

Anyway, after the first few chapters it started to pick up and then the hot the mess that is this book really started. I loved the variety and ridiculousness of these characters. I loved all the drag references. I loved the road trip. I loved all the fabulousness it contained.

And the reason I gave it a 3 star rating was because of the start and the transitions of the story weren't as smooth as they ought to be. Yes, I loved the characters later but there was more of them than is actually necessary for the progress of this story.

I would still recommend it though especially if you, like myself, love drag queens.
Profile Image for Paulo Ratz.
185 reviews4,889 followers
September 22, 2017
Uma história bem gostosinha e divertida com uma perspectiva que eu nunca tinha lido. Tinha muito lugar pra crescer, mas acho que caiu em muitas obviedades e em alguns momentos pareceu um pouco infanto juvenil. Uma pena, mas como disse no canal, quem quiser uma historinha rápida e gostosinha, vale a pena.
Profile Image for Amy.
59 reviews
March 21, 2016
I love this book. Parts of it felt a little clichéd, or cheesy, but it was amazing. As a fairly recently out queer woman, the book really captured what it was like to feel like an outsider, even in what is supposed to be your community. Definitely a book I'd recommend reading.
Profile Image for Nurhayati Ramlan.
92 reviews23 followers
August 25, 2016

That scene with JT and his parents outside of the Drag Teen peagent had my eyes all teary up. I love this, a lot! Cheers to the journey of discovering and loving yourself. <3
Profile Image for ⚣Michaelle⚣.
3,672 reviews202 followers
April 21, 2020
I'm always a little leery of authors that also do their own audio, but holy cow - Jeffery Self's narration was amazing.

Hilarious adventure and lovely tale of finding oneself.
Profile Image for Kylie Kaemke.
Author 3 books28 followers
May 30, 2016
When I started Drag Teen I had just finished up Kissing In America by Margot Rabb, so I was on a road-trip-to-win-a-scholarship kick; which is okay with me! I’m always down for a good road trip story, and while Drag Teen is less road trip and more and more self discovery Jeffery Self still delivered everything I was expecting to find in this book.

It’s a great friendship story, as well as a relationship story. The MC had a lot of self-pity in the beginning, and that got a little redundant, but as the story progressed he got better… or I stopped caring, either way it didn’t negatively impact the story enough for me to dislike him. I didn’t love the super fluffy everything-is-rainbows ending, but it was still a decent ending to a great story. It was also an ending, that even though I personally didn’t love, that the story deserved.

It was a very quick and fun read. There was an important message within the words, and I am all about books that make people feel ‘normal’. I know lots of teens will pull something really special out of this book and be able to apply it to their daily lives, and that’s really important! I gave Drag Teen 4 stars, and I know some teens out there are going to love it and give it all the stars!

Bravo to Jeffery Self on his debut YA, and thank you to Scholastic for reaching out to me and providing me with an arc!
Profile Image for M.
87 reviews
July 9, 2016
Would be 100% better if Heather, the fat best friend, were not portrayed as so disgusting, desperate for masculine attention and always spilling food on herself. The book does a decent job representing the kind of casual misogyny that is sometimes understood to be okay within the gay community, but the characters never really call anyone on this or apologize to Heather for how shitty it must be to bear the brunt of this while trying to support a friend. A cute, light read that has so much potential but really falls down in its approach to women and fat people, which is enough to ruin a book for me.
Profile Image for Carey.
562 reviews50 followers
May 22, 2016
Even though I love drag and am an avid fan of Drag Race, I know that as a 37 year old cis lady, I am not this book's target audience. That being said, I found it fluffy and sweet and would not hesitate to recommend it to others. Party!
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
June 21, 2019
A fun book about self-discovery through drag.

J.T has never felt more himself when he dresses in drag. Sadly, the one time he did it at his school's talent show, he was mocked and ridiculed in the worst ways possible. When his boyfriend finds a scholarship contest involving a drag show, J.T ultimately decides to risk it. He wants to go to college and the scholarship is the only way to get out of his small Florida town. Throughout this journey, J.T. learns several things about his friends and himself that will bring them closer and challenge their relationships in the best way.

I loved the relationship between J.T. and his boyfriend, Seth. Seth was so supportive of J.T. and was the main reason J.T. was convinced to try the drag competition in the first place. Heather was also amazing. I loved her friendship with the guys. Both had to face hurdles in their relationships, but it ultimately brought them closer.

I did enjoy this, but nothing really stuck with me besides J.T.'s speech. I absolutely loved his speech about his relationship with drag. It was so realistic and it really got me in the feels.
Profile Image for Brian.
1,630 reviews41 followers
June 4, 2016
JT has aspirations of leaving his small town in Florida and become a drag superstar. His parents barely notice him and his best friend Heather has her own problems with her weight. And his boyfriend Seth is perfect...too perfect and surely he will realize that he can do much much better than JT. But regardless, Seth inspires JT to travel on a road trip with himself and Heather to New York so that JT can enter a drag competition that will allow him to get a scholarship. Along the way, they encounter a cast of interesting characters. This book was a cute and quick read. It wasn't anything particularly deep or memorable, but it was fun to read nonetheless.
Profile Image for Michelle.
143 reviews3 followers
June 28, 2018
“Drag is armor, darling. No matter how you look at it. Once I become Bambi, nobody can hurt me. Not my family, not the drunk assholes at the bar, nobody. A good lace-front wig and the right contouring are as strong a bulletproof vest as I’ve ever needed.”

This was perfect for some good gay YA fiction where no one dies and my heart didn’t get constantly broken into a thousand pieces. Instead it’s just a great story of discovering and becoming your true self, even if that means you’re different than everyone else.

JT just wants out of Clearwater, Florida. He’s terrified that if he stays, he’s going to turn into his QVC watching, gas station owning parents. And that’s even worse than his current existence as the overweight and unpopular gay guy at school who once totally embarrassed himself by doing drag in the school talent show. JT knows that the only way out for him is college, but his parents don’t have money and he doesn’t have the grades for a good scholarship. So when JT’s boyfriend, Seth, discovers that there’s a Miss Drag Teen Scholarship Pageant happening in New York City, JT decides it’s time to try and put his fears aside and put his wig back on.

It was nice to read a YA book with a gay teen main character who doesn’t question his sexuality, or even his desire to do drag. Sure, he avoids doing it, because of course he does when his first experience was straight out of a nightmare and also because he lives in Florida. And as much as this book was a fun story about road trips and drag culture, it was also about JT figuring out who he was, in and out of drag.

“Being a gay kid in this decade of equality and anti-bullying and all that stuff that gay celebrities liked to talk about on TV had so many advantages, but one of the biggest disadvantages was that I couldn't blame why I felt like an outsider on being gay anymore. Gay was in, but that didn't mean that all gay people were.”

Yes, there were times when this felt super cliche and cheesy and unrealistic. Every time the characters had a problem, the perfect solution sort of fell into their laps within just a few pages. But Drag Teen had all the heart in the world to make up for that. Is it a book that I felt was life changing or super poignant? No. But did I enjoy every second of it? Absolutely. This book was funny, laugh out loud so hard it hurts kind of funny. And I loved Jeffrey Self’s voice- figuratively and literally, he also read the audiobook.
Profile Image for Ethan.
59 reviews4 followers
March 6, 2018
FINALLY
A YA novel centered on a gay teen where the plot doesn't revolve around accepting their sexuality or having a crush.
This is a fun road trip story about a teenager who loves drag and hopes to win a competition in New York to earn a scholarship. The characters are fun and bright and most of the mishaps along the way feel genuine. One character in particular is a bit too much of a benevolent fairy godmother but other than that the book is a legitimately enjoyable and refreshing read.
Profile Image for Erin.
127 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2017
Sweet story, but very predictable. I could see exactly where it was going. Cute though, and extra points for inclusiveness.
Profile Image for Casey Carlisle.
551 reviews52 followers
September 20, 2016
I spotted this book on a friend’s blog and instantly knew I must have it! Teen angst mixed in with drag glamour and bitchiness – sign me up. So, it’s easy to see I had some expectations going in to ‘Drag Teen,’ but were they met?

This novel is an easy, fun read. Engaging. A bit too much postulating at times. But contains a nice message, even though, in my opinion, left out a lot of drag culture (and the real reasons people do it.) So while entertaining, not as fabulous as I hoped.

JT, our protagonist became annoying a lot of the time - seriously whiny – and that was the major factor keeping me from truly loving this story. It also felt like his motivations for the pageant, and doing drag, were flimsy. JT was also very serious. All the aspects we come to expect from drag – beauty, sarcasm and humour, living out loud… he failed to embody any of these elements, and it was difficult to see even why he wanted to embrace that world. Granted his fascination with RuPaul’s Drag Race is understandable, but I didn’t get the compulsion from the core of his being that he MUST do drag. His narrative was flat. I wanted passion, or wit, or at least an obsession with all things shiny and make-up.

The boyfriend, Seth in an incredible human being, and felt too good to be true. It was nice to see the cool, handsome jock smitten over a drag queen - because that hardly ever happens in real life, but I found myself looking for a fault, something to ground him and make him believable instead of a fantasy. Seth came off as stereotypical in nearly every aspect, and subsequently, a bit of a non-event for me.

The rest of the cast, while interesting, felt somewhat two dimensional.

At the heart of it all - the pay-off I was expecting - the draginess of it all, throwing shade, reading someone, artistic talent in concept and clothing design, and amazing make-up... all the stuff that epitomises drag was either barely there or completely omitted. Some big opportunities were missed to make this an outstanding novel. It is nearly making me want to knock a mark off the rating I'm giving. Though I liked the (small amount of) character development (even though some of it was simplistic.) ‘Drag Teen’ has a positive message, an entertaining plot, and kept me guessing what the conclusion might be right up to the very end with expert tension. So it has all the makings of a good story, but lacked in content and culture.

Additionally, the plot had a little too much happenstance for my liking. Things falling into your lap and coincidence feel like a cop-out. We want characters to overcome adversity, show some grit and passion for their goal. Can you imagine a drag queen in those circumstances – writing gold. But ‘Drag Teen’ missed her spotlight on that one.

I’d still recommend it solely based on the fact that there is such a small amount of literature out there on this subject matter, and feel it needs to be explored more – for the fun, the laughs, and diversity!
Profile Image for Anneliese C.
8 reviews13 followers
March 4, 2017
JT is a gay 17 year old boy that loved being gay the only thing that he didn't love was his body, which meant that he was fat. He worked at a gas station in the middle of town. He had a best friend since 1st grade, Heather, and a boyfriend for 3.5 years ,Seth. His parents weren't his biggest fans so he went to an alternative his dead nana that was his idol. His dream was to be a drag queen. One day his boyfriend came over with a present it was a brochure for a drag completion to win a scholarship to college. This reminded him of his first and last drag show in the school talent show (it didn't go so well) A few days later he tried out for a scholarship. JT didn't get the scholarship and the group began to start making plans of what to do next. Seth brought up the drag pageant scholarship and they saw that it was in New York. He actually got a bit excited. He went home and did his research and knew that he actually had a chance and he left to Seth's house where they told his parents that hey were going with the rest of the school to a beach and that they needed their car to get there. They were actually going to New York for that pageant. He asked his parents if he could go, and They said yes. So when all three of them went on the road trip they stoped at the Belair motel after listening to firework 33 times. When they got there, they were hungry for adventure. They went to a diner Seth made Heather talk to a guy. They suggested going to a gay bar. When they got there He met a guy named Alex and they started to talk about how unprepared he was for this pageant. He told him about this drag queen that could help hide for $20 after writing a list of what they needed for the pageant which consisted of glamour, talent, heart ,and soul. He went to Bambi who lead him to her drag closet. Bambi started to put her makeup on his face while giving her tips. JT started to ask questions about drag and she answered with wisdom. When she was done JT looked stunning and she crossed out glamour. They went to the motel and started on the road again, where they got a flat tire. A sweet, rich, old couple drove up and let them stay at their house, When they got there they found a closet full of costumes. Tina (the old lady) caught them and rightly assumed that there was a drag queen. They went to the music room with wigs where she was ready to teach JT the perfect song for him and JT crossed out talent. I can not spoil the ending so i have to stop there, but it is really good and surprising. This book made me feel happy and sad at the same time. If you like humorous books that touches your heart and tickles your emotions, this is the book for you. This book has as good of a lead as when, and is BRILLIANTLY written! I love this book! The authors propose is too entertain.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,018 reviews116 followers
August 7, 2016
"I want to do something different. I want to live in different places. I want to see the world and be somebody."
Sometimes you just need to step back and take a break. Lately, I have been reading about teenagers being posessed and killing one another as they lose their minds and bite someones ear off (Merciless... check it out) I needed to come back from hell and land in a safe place. Lift my spirits and put on a damn fabulous wig. Strut my stuff and belt out 9 to 5. And Drag Teen was the next best thing.
JT lives in Clearwater, Florida, having a very loving and hunky boyfriend Seth, the best friend anyone could ask for Heather, living at home with mom and dad who run a gas station and trying to come up with a way to pay for college. He has one heck of an interesting life. After failing to gain a scholarship, he feels like his plan to leave this town and never look back is looking more and more grim by the minute.
With Heather and Seth by his side they come up with a few alternatives. Seth finds an announcement for a drag teen competition in New York and the winner will receive a full scholarship for the entire four years.
It takes a lot of arm twisting and guilt tripping to win JT over and he finally caves. Telling all their parents that they are going to Daytona for spring break, they are officially on the way to kick drag ass.
Hitting some bumps in the road, everything always seems to even out for them. Hmm.. I guess thats how the fictional world works. With a lot of help from queens along the way, JT finally starts to feel like himself in his own skin. With nothing to hide and everything to gain, he doesnt hold back.
On the road and running into an old country singer... pretty much saved his life for the better.
Can JT overcome his insecurities to win the competition? Will he let the pressure win and make him turn back? Or will Seth and Heather be his best support system for life?
This is a cute pick me up after all the evil that I have currently let into my book reading life. Extremely clichè and totally predictable. Some of these scenarios were over the top and could only happen in books and it took a lot away from the story. Very far fetched and not believable one bit. It was still a confidence booster of a book and glad that I read it.
Profile Image for Coenraad.
797 reviews39 followers
January 5, 2022
Jeffery Self tells a lovely coming-of-age story, combining a drive to leave one's home town and a road movie narrative with the fabulous world of drag. The main character, JT, his boyfriend Seth and female best friend Heather find a way for JT to go to college far from his Florida heritage: win a Drag Teen pageant in New York City. The process becomes a journey, which leads to a feel-good triumph - although not in the way one expects. The energy of the drag scene and the surprises propel the reader through the series of lessons the characters learn. Despite being a tad heavy on the homilies, this fun romp will launch life for certain teen readers ánd leave them with an upbeat smile. Recommended.

JT hoop om 'n fopdoswedstryd te wen: dis sy laaste hoop om uit sy tuisdorp in Florida te ontsnap. Sy verbete pogings word 'n reisverhaal én 'n Bildungsroman. Al word die lesse wat JT en sy vriende leer, effens dik aangeplak, is die verhaal energiek en prettig - vir sekere tienerlesers sal dit die brandstof verskaf om 'n nuwe, eerlike lewe van stapel te stuur. Daarom kan ek dit aanbeveel.
Profile Image for Kris Ivy.
1,170 reviews48 followers
February 26, 2018
I adored this book. It has wonderful flow and isn't nothing but angst. It's YA where the leads are struggling with only a little bit of who they are and are not all 'woe is me, I should kill myself; I'm so lost'. It's fun. They have come to grips with their sexuality. The big deal with this is that the three leads have their own insecurities to get over. They think that they are not good enough. It's the whole: "I'll never be loved because I'm fat."
"I don't deserve him because he's a 10 and I'm a 3, maybe."
"I used to be a complete nerd and keep that past hidden from everyone."
re-read: This book gets funner every time I read it. All the love to the wonderful Jeffery Self.
The guy has style and grace.
Profile Image for K..
3,544 reviews999 followers
June 10, 2018
Trigger warnings: homophobia, fatphobia.

3.5 stars.

So here's the thing: I'm trash for RuPaul's Drag Race. Obviously I was going to read this book. And I sped through it in one sitting. It was fun, it was cute, it was enjoyable. But at the same time, it was very very simple. There's an easy solution for every challenge that JT comes across. There's no real depth to any of the characters. Everything is a little too quick, a little too surface level. But sometimes, that's exactly what you want.

Will I remember anything about this in like a week's time? Probably not. Did I enjoy the hell out of it when I was reading it? Absolutely.
Profile Image for Kaleena.
69 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2017
5 stars because it was easy enough to read that I READ A BOOK IN 2017!! (Noteworthy because that may or may not have happened in 2016. Ooops) This stinkin' book has seen more travels as it got hauled with me on just about every trip I took in 2016. I'm sure the book will be quite content to live out it's book destiny collecting dust on someone's bookshelf (or possible in a recycling bin because of all the water damage it's endured).

As far as YA fiction? I enjoyed it but I'm pretty sure 14yo me would've enjoy it more. And yay for queer fiction! Party!
Profile Image for Jesse Nicholas.
279 reviews65 followers
Read
August 29, 2016
Thank you PUSH for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I unfortunately at this time have to DNF at 66%. This story is just not for me. I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters or story-lines within the book. I just can't force myself to continue reading it.

I hope other readers find some entertainment and joy from reading this book, and that my decision to DNF the book doesn't sway theirs.
Profile Image for Caroline Fosse.
434 reviews64 followers
May 3, 2016
A book with a gay main character with a lot of RuPaul references, what more could you want? I enjoyed the characters, the plot and the surprising end. A really quick, easy and fun read. (And let's just talk about the characters loving RuPaul's Drag Race!!)
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