Boy Queen by George Lester is one of our school’s considerations for the grade nine de-streamed classroom. These are my thoughts on whether or not we should include this book in our book club selection. To learn more about our Inclusive Classroom Library Project, please click here.
A Brief Plot Outline
Robin Cooper loves to sing, dance, and act. He is ready for a life in showbiz.
Robin has good friends and an understanding mother. Dance classes are going well, and he nailed his entrance audition for the London Academy of Performing Arts. He even has an attractive secret boyfriend, even though the secret boyfriend is still in the closet.
Robin’s world comes crashing down when he is rejected from LAPA. The rejection sends Robin into despair, and everything else goes wrong. Robin becomes very unsure of himself.
Robin’s friends convince him to go to a gay bar to watch a drag show. The show changes Robin’s life: he knows what he wants to do now. He wants to be a drag performer.
His commitment to being a drag queen further complicates his life. He unintentionally alienates his friends and mother. A new boy, Seth, is the only one to stand by his side while Robin sorts out his life.
This book is a pretty standard coming-of-age type story. The twist, of course, is that the main character wants to enter the world of drag.
I do like the central message of being yourself and following your passion in life.
The book is well written. My only complaint is that the main character cries way too much. At one point, I wanted to reach through the pages, slap Robin once, and tell him to toughen up. Regardless, Robin manages to stay strong, and he finds himself by the end of the book.
Who Will Like This?
I believe LGBTQ+ students will enjoy the book; however, this novel has a much wider audience. Most students will identify with Robin’s hardships. His struggles are a part of the high school experience:
- The pressures put on us by others and ourselves.
- Relationships with friends and significant others.
- Dealing with what we want to do with our lives vs. what is practical.
The message in this book is universal.
Boy Queen is relatively easy to read, and the messages are universal. We could argue that it is not academic enough, but that isn’t our most significant concern when choosing these books. We need engaging novels.
I believe that this is a good choice for our LGBTQ+ book selections. While We Do What We Do In the Dark is a more literary novel, this may resonate more with students. I would like to see both books included in our list because they are so different and will engage diverse audiences.