Kings, queens, and in-betweens
Book - 2019
Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother's unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town. Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be--one that can... confidently express and accept love. But she'll have to learn to accept lost love to get there. From debut author Tanya Boteju comes a poignant, laugh-out-loud tale of acceptance, self-expression, and the colorful worlds that await when we're brave enough to look.
In Boteju's debut, a lesbian teen with low self-esteem expands her world and gains confidence by getting involved in a local drag community. Seventeen-year-old Nima is still struggling a year and a half after her mother abandoned her and her father, and she was just rejected by her longtime crush and best friend. When she stumbles into a drag show at a local fair, she finds a fascinating and accepting community, as well as a potential new romance. Nima, with all her naïveté and cringe-worthy missteps, serves as a vehicle to teach readers about different aspects of drag culture and queer culture. The overall message of Nima's education is that definitions are loose, and it's best to let individuals tell you their story, although generalizations do creep into the narrative. Boteju covers a wide range of identities and lifestyles, and while the waters between performing drag and being trans get a little muddied in one plotline, readers in Nima's position—curious about drag and eager to find out more—will find a lot of info here. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
One of the few things 17-year-old Nima knows for sure is that she's gay. She doesn't know what made her mother leave a year and a half earlier, how she's going to spend the summer before her senior year after being rejected by her crush, or why she keeps running into Gordon, a childhood friend turned bully. Then she visits the small town's summer festival and meets glamorous drag queen Deidre, spellbinding drag king Winnow, and a whole world—just a bus ride away—of people who perform, loud and proud, in and out of drag. All-loving, all-knowing Deidre is a fantasy possessing the power to turn Nima into the drag king she didn't know she wanted to be, and to help Gordon, who's drawn to drag, begin coping with his homophobic attitudes. Debut author Boteju lays on the small-town atmosphere a little thickly at times (everyone knows everyone, and Nima reads as naive), but watching Nima and her nervous stomach find the nerve to perform and maybe even pursue a girl who likes her back is satisfying. And who doesn't need a glamorous drag queen fairy godmother? Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up—Nima is a biracial shy, nerdy lesbian who uncharacteristically breaks into the drag scene after getting a glimpse of a queens and kings sideshow at a summer festival. Recently wounded by a crush's rejection, Nima feels both terrified and determined when there is an obvious mutual attraction with the drag king star. A charismatic queen named Deidre guides Nima to the understanding that unconditional love is possible and labels are unnecessary. Along the way, a colorful cast of LGBTQIA+ characters welcome and/or perplex Nima, but they always help her grow her self-confidence. At times these characters are so numerous, it's difficult to distinguish them all, but a little backtracking or note-taking is worth the effort. Although the action is minimal, this is an excellent character study and a primer for drag shows. VERDICT This successful presentation of the highs, lows, and midways of a teen finding her place in queer culture will appeal to readers who appreciate a character-driven light romance.—Elaine Fultz, Madison Jr. Sr. High School, Middletown, OH Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
After a bewildering encounter at her small town's annual summer festival, seventeen-year-old biracial, queer Nima plunges into the world of drag, where she has the chance to explore questions of identity, acceptance, self-expression, and love.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Struggling with her mother's sudden departure and a hopeless crush on a straight friend, a socially awkward teen is haphazardly enmeshed in the drag scene on the other side of her insular community, where she navigates questions of identity and self-acceptance. A first novel. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.Review by Publisher Summary 3
'Poignant and important.' 'Refinery29'A bright and sparkly celebration of love and self-acceptance.' 'Kirkus ReviewsJudy Blume meets RuPaul's Drag Race in this funny, feel-good debut novel about a queer teen who navigates questions of identity and self-acceptance while discovering the magical world of drag.Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother's unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be'one that can confidently express and accept love. But she'll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.From debut author Tanya Boteju comes a poignant, laugh-out-loud tale of acceptance, self-expression, and the colorful worlds that await when we're brave enough to look.