Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.
This book was every bit as fabulous as I expected it to be. Boy Queen follows Robin, who is struggling with knowing what to do when he gets turned down from his dream drama school. Surrounded by his friends, he ends up exploring the world of drag, and blimey it is a ride.
Look, I don’t know much about drag. I watched a bit of Drag Race yearssss ago, and I don’t remember much about it. But this book feels like a staple for those who love drag, and those who only know a little about it. As Robin is only just being introduced to the wonderful world of drag himself, I was very much along for the ride, and what a ride it was.
I absolutely adored the characters. Robin’s mum was my favourite. She was smart, she was sassy, and she loved Robin more than anything in the world. I loved every line she came out with, and the relationship between Robin and his mum was so heartwarming. The book never talks about why Robin and his mum live alone, and I actually really liked that. I’ve found a couple of books recently that don’t discuss single parent relationships in too much depth, and I find it really strong and a great thing to normalise. Not that it’s not important, it just wasn’t the story Boy Queen was here to tell, and that’s okay.
Robin was surrounded by a lovely, diverse group of friends who stand up for him when it really matters. They have their differences, which feels real and is done really well, but they also stick together. And Robin himself, the fabulous little drama queen he is, was a great protagonist to follow. He even made me properly laugh out loud in parts, which I find rarely happens with a book and I really appreciated!
I read this book in a couple of days, and although the pacing can be a little slow at times, it feels like an all-singing, all-dancing heart-warming pick me up. It was warm and fuzzy, but not without it’s family feuds, break ups and drama! What an absolutely sparkling YA debut! I can’t wait to see more from George Lester.
cw: homophobia, physical attack/abuse, homophobic slurs
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽