When the audition that Robin thought he aced doesn’t lead to a spot at a prestigious drama school, his sense of self is shattered. A trip to a local drag bar sparks a new dream, but will throwing himself headfirst into a world of makeup, corsets, and high heels be enough to overcome his fear of failure?
‘Boy Queen’ is a coming of age story that combines a familiar, fairy-tale-esque plot structure – complete with the perfect Fairy Dragmother – and more serious themes of homophobia, bullying, and abusive relationships. This is a tricky balance to pull off, but Lester is a deft writer with an ear for dialogue that both zips and zings. Robin’s relationship with his mother helps ground the more fantastical aspects and leaven the darker beats.
Robin is an engaging hero, full of flaws and self-doubt, but coming alive when he is performing. A really interesting dilemma is introduced when his best friend complains that his newfound enthusiasm for drag, which is taking up all his free time and leading him to skip school and miss dance class, is an unhealthy attempt to distract himself for his failed audition. This is a thread that could have perhaps been developed more, especially as Robin exhibits a potentially similar pattern in his romantic relationships. Ultimately, however, the plot momentum inevitably leads to everything being at stake at the big final show. Young Adult