Confessions of a Teenage Drag King

Lorimer. Jan. 2021. 160p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781459415614; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781459415584.
Gr 8 Up–Canadian high school senior Lauri Garber has a big secret: She regularly dons a binder and a mascara beard and struts the stage as drag king “Ren.” She feels most herself when on stage or with her drag show family. Uninterested in school or home life, Lauri does the absolute minimum—sometimes even less—to get by. Then comes Clover, who has “golden-brown” skin, and Lauri is smitten. Lauri starts texting her as Ren, but also interacts with Clover at school as Lauri. Eventually, Lauri’s—and Ren’s—care-for-nothing-but-herself attitude lands her in hot water at school, the drag show, and with Clover. Can Lauri turn it all around? As a protagonist, Lauri, whose ethnicity is not mentioned, is believable but frustrating. She blows off schoolwork, family, and obligations to both drag show friends and Clover until she essentially loses everything. However, she still doesn’t seem to care much, though she makes some minor efforts to change. Her friends finally bring her back into the fold and accept her as the “asshole” she is; a message that may have limited appeal for readers. Although Lauri’s friend group—including Clover, who is transgender—is diverse, characters are not much explored, and world-building is minimal. The text includes occasional, situation-appropriate profanity. A better book about drag kings is Tanya Boteju’s Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens.
VERDICT This story of a care-for-nothing drag king is an additional purchase.

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