Boy Queen by George Lester – REVIEW
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 makeup, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.
Boy Queen by George Lester is a sparkling debut full of big hair, big heels and even bigger hearts.
I received a complimentary ARC of this book from My Kinda Book.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“It’s like I was following a map, and now someone has taken this giant eraser and scrubbed out the road.”
If you’re searching for the perfect summer read, look no further than Boy Queen, a fabulous LGBTQIA+ story about friendship, family, love, acceptance and drag. When Robin’s dream of attending a performing arts college falls apart, he must pick himself up and find the courage to forge a new path. I love how the author explores the pressure on kids to choose their career at only eighteen years old – it’s such a restrictive idea and limits the potential of so many. After watching an incredible performance at a local gay club, Robin discovers the transformative power of drag and yearns to become a star.
“A queen walks through the crowd and onto the stage. Never has the royal title been so fitting.”
I loved the names of the drag queens we meet, especially Anne Drogyny and Kaye Bye. I’m an avid watcher of RuPaul’s Drag Race but this book emphasised how much more there is to drag and the people who do it (trans queens, AFAB queens, drag kings etc). I can’t wait until we can enjoy live entertainment again as I’m so excited to see a drag show and experience everything described. I loved Robin’s journey via drag and the acceptance he slowly comes to experience. Kaye Bye was a snarky yet kind drag mum and I lived for every scene she was in.
“Is this what the world is like? We get these little pockets of queerness to thrive in but the rest of it is a straight man’s playground?”
The side characters were another fantastic aspect, with brilliant rep, and such memorable personalities. Priya, Greg and Natalie had a wonderful dynamic with Robin and I appreciated the author examining how friendships can change as big life events (e.g. university) happen. Secret-boyfriend Connor was definitely a complex character with a lot of self-hatred due to being afraid to come out to his friends and family. His relationship with Robin was toxic for both of them and I’m glad this was explored in a nuanced way. New boy and love-interest Seth was a cinnamon-roll and his complete support for and acceptance of Robin was so cute. Additionally, the relationship between Robin and his mum was particularly well written and I loved every scene with her in.
“After hiding myself for so long, shrinking my shoulders, trying not to be too visible … here I am standing tall because in a six-inch heel, you don’t really have a choice.”
Boy Queen is heartwarming, witty, and full of love. It’s all about finding yourself and learning to accept your truth, highlighting the importance of seizing the moment. I’d highly recommend this book and suggest adding it to your wish lists ASAP.