Becoming a Queen

Roaring Brook. Apr. 2023. 416p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250843098.
Gr 8 Up–A thoughtful exploration of self-expression and grief that deepens as the story progresses. High schooler Mark Davis is excited to perform in a dress for the school talent show, but is devastated when his boyfriend John reacts badly to the performance. After the show causes their breakup, Mark worries that no one except his brother will celebrate the part of him that loves to wear dresses. But when Mark runs into fellow classmate Ezra at a Halloween store and sparks fly, the two begin to develop a relationship built on the acceptance Mark is seeking. After a tragic event impacts Mark’s family and he loses his main source of support, Mark has to figure out how to reconnect with his parents while still honoring his full self. Clay’s nuanced and honest examination of grief makes this book a powerful choice for teens who have experienced loss. While the novel explores heavy topics like addiction and death, the writing style is entertaining and humorous, making the story engaging and relatable.
VERDICT An inspiring story about a teen developing the confidence to push back against the rigid expectations surrounding gender expression.

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