Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens
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.

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens Details

TitleKings, Queens, and In-Betweens
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherSimon Pulse
ISBN-139781534430655
Rating
GenreLGBT, Young Adult, Contemporary

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens Review

  • Julie Zantopoulos
    January 1, 1970
    *This arc was provided by Simon Pulse via Netgalley in return for my honest review.*"With each passing moment, I'd get that feeling you sometimes have the moment you're about to flip the final page of a really good book, when your anticipation for what happens next overwhelms you, but you also know that turning the page means you're closer to an end. This was a story I didn't want to end."I kinda didn't want this story to end because saying goodbye to such vibrant, leap off the page, characters *This arc was provided by Simon Pulse via Netgalley in return for my honest review.*"With each passing moment, I'd get that feeling you sometimes have the moment you're about to flip the final page of a really good book, when your anticipation for what happens next overwhelms you, but you also know that turning the page means you're closer to an end. This was a story I didn't want to end."I kinda didn't want this story to end because saying goodbye to such vibrant, leap off the page, characters sucks. I really loved Nima, and her father and Jill (her mother's best friend), and Charles, and DeeDee, and Winnow, and Gordon (trust me, you'll get there too). The cast of characters in this novel are so rich and wonderful and their fight to figure themselves out, to carve a place in the world for themselves that feels right and safe is so stunningly raw and real. "How to explain to her how terrifying this all was without seeming young, and ridiculous, and pathetic? To explain how much I wanted to her to like me, despite my fear there wasn't enough worth liking?"Nima is queer but has never really put a label on herself, and that's totally fine. What isn't okay is the other people in town who like to yell out that she's a dyke or a lesbian and assign her labels before she's even decided on one for herself. Throughout this novel she's trying to figure out where she feels the safest on the gender spectrum as well as in her comfort level within the queer community. This is such a vulnerable look at being overwhelmed by such a diverse, rich, and vibrant community and finding your place within it. The drag queens, Deirdre in particular, and the kings as well (Winnow has my heart) are so welcoming and patient with her. Nima explores her gender and sexuality through drag, through engagement in the community, and it's really fun and sometimes cringe-worthy to watch. It's not easy diving into a world that is so nuanced and she messes up a bit before getting it "right". Throughout the novel, all characters show so much respect for one another. They take notice of pronouns used, how people identify and are open about asking when they are unsure. Winnow as a love interest is the actual best in that she communicates clearly, is open to Nima being new to the larger community, and patient with her even as Nima freaks out and pushes her away. She's an actual angel. "The only thing about bliss is that it's sometimes accompanied by ignorance."Also as the heart of this story is Nima and her relationship with her mother who left over a year ago without much explanation. Okay, pretty much no explanation, just a note that said she had to leave. Turns out that even if your parents look like they're madly in love there could be a ton going on you don't see. Nima's father is pretty much the greatest, he's a mumu wearing hippie and he's got my heart as well, but she wants her mother around, too. Who wouldn't? Unfortunately, this is the one aspect of the book that I feel like was underdeveloped and not done as well as it could have been. I gave this book 5 stars cause it really was the best look at this topic and the world of drag that I've read (okay, the only but I really enjoyed it) but it's probably a 4.25 or 4.5 in reality. Her mother's got her own set of issues, her own identity and crap to figure out and I get that but there's a lot that could have been addressed in this book that never happens in terms of their relationship. Also, while I enjoyed her relationship with Jill (her mother's best friend) there were unresolved issues with her that I felt could have/should have been handled better, also. Plus, her father should have been involved more in some of the issues surrounding her mother and more dialogue between Nima and him would have been beneficial. "But above all, I honor all those young people who live beyond the so-called "norm" you're beautiful and magical and perfect. This book is for you."Most importantly, this is a novel by an author who is queer, who did drag in their youth, and who knows the community. They have personal experience to lend to the storytelling that makes it come alive because it's their story to tell. I haven't ever read about kings before but I loved learning more about the drag community through Nima's eyes. There's a lot of complexity within it and it overwhelmed her but because she kept an open mind and had a desire to know more...she learned and the reader can learn along with her. I adore that this story exists in a world where it can be read, enjoyed, and respected. Trigger warnings for domestic abuse, slurs against the queer community (mostly challenged), underage drinking and binge drinking, and abandonment by a parent.
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    queer brown girl learning about drag and nightlife seems like a really good concept thanks
  • madeline ♡
    January 1, 1970
    WHOA WHOA WHOA. HOLD UP. did someone just say biracial queer girl because THAT’S ME AND I’M ALL FOR IT.
  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the depiction of drag, the first blush of meeting other queer people, and exploring your place in the LGBTQ community. At times this YA about little awkward baby dyke Nima really brought me back to that period in my life. I loved the supportive adults in Nima's life: her hippie dad, lesbian family friend Jill, and drag mentor Deirdre. But: the plot about her mom who's abandoned her was underdeveloped and the characterization of Deirdre was confused: she's constantly referred to as a drag I loved the depiction of drag, the first blush of meeting other queer people, and exploring your place in the LGBTQ community. At times this YA about little awkward baby dyke Nima really brought me back to that period in my life. I loved the supportive adults in Nima's life: her hippie dad, lesbian family friend Jill, and drag mentor Deirdre. But: the plot about her mom who's abandoned her was underdeveloped and the characterization of Deirdre was confused: she's constantly referred to as a drag queen but it's also clear she presents as a woman all the time and she's never referred to as a trans woman. I also thought she felt too much like a stereotypical performing Black drag queen instead of a real person? More thoughts and full review to come!
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  • Ivy
    January 1, 1970
    https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com... “Laugh at yourself. Laugh at others. Let them laugh at you. And dance, dance, dance like a goddamn fool.” Nima Kumara-Clark lives a small life in a small town. She has a crush on a straight basketball star, lives with her newly single hippie dad who’s just trying to keep things normal, and her idea of fun is silently reading with her best friend Charles. When Nima’s home life begins to fall apart, she finds solace in the queer world she’s discovering, slo https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com... “Laugh at yourself. Laugh at others. Let them laugh at you. And dance, dance, dance like a goddamn fool.” Nima Kumara-Clark lives a small life in a small town. She has a crush on a straight basketball star, lives with her newly single hippie dad who’s just trying to keep things normal, and her idea of fun is silently reading with her best friend Charles. When Nima’s home life begins to fall apart, she finds solace in the queer world she’s discovering, slowly but surely throwing herself into the art form that, from the outside, seems to be everything she isn’t. As she finds her inner king and attempts to impress her new crush, she has to face the cracks in her life she’s ignored for too long, and realize that self-love and confidence aren’t selfish - they’re required. Nima is a brilliant protagonist, sweet and innocent while still growing and changing throughout the novel. As the reader explores drag alongside her, we get a good sense of her feelings, the feelings that she isn’t totally sure of herself. There’s a sincerity to Nima that’s hard to find in most protagonists, especially YA protagonists. Yet another notable feature of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is that it features drag kings over drag queens, which is highly unusual in popular culture. Even Nima is surprised that drag kings exist, though she’s heard of drag queens. But in this novel, kings are celebrated and proved to be just as worthy of the public’s praise as queens. Overall, I really enjoyed Kings, Queens, an In-Betweens. It was a diversely queer novel, with a fairly original concept and uniquely real characters. Tanya Boteju has a lot of talent, so her future is infinite. My hope for Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is that it can at least change some people’s mindset regarding the benefits of drag, and introduce young people to a new art form they didn’t know they needed. Rating: Three/Five For fans of: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan, Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/hy6neof...
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  • ellie
    January 1, 1970
    holy shit? am i reading this right? a desi girl whos queer? this has HIGH hype for me now even though i know NOTHING about drag so this will be interesting
  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    Nima thought her summer would be spend endlessly pining after the gorgeous Ginny, but she's swept into a world of drag kings, drag queens, and everything in-between.This was an inclusive and welcoming debut novel that I really, really wanted to love a lot more than I did.The representation was on point and the #ownvoices aspect was apparent in every little detail, and there was so much queer rep and people of color that my heart wanted to burst. I also really loved Deidre, who really was a fairy Nima thought her summer would be spend endlessly pining after the gorgeous Ginny, but she's swept into a world of drag kings, drag queens, and everything in-between.This was an inclusive and welcoming debut novel that I really, really wanted to love a lot more than I did.The representation was on point and the #ownvoices aspect was apparent in every little detail, and there was so much queer rep and people of color that my heart wanted to burst. I also really loved Deidre, who really was a fairy drag queen in disguise.However, despite all of these good points, there was something about this book that didn't draw me completely in. I never felt swept into this world, and I feel that it's because of the tell vs show writing style, and the way it felt like major plot points were rushed through or told instead of acted, while other parts dragged on. I also kept wondering where a lot of the book's summary would come in—where was the hilarity? The world of drag? There was some, but mostly it was just Deidre...none of the other drag kings or queens were really introduced beyond Winnow, Luce and a couple others, and they all felt very much like cardboard cut-outs instead of people.And much of this tell vs show issue had to do with the narrator, Nima, who was one of the most bland and boring characters—and she shouldn't have been. She had literally no personality—when asked what she liked, she said, she liked books. What books? Novels. Okaaaay.Even when she decided to become a drag king (and with the drama with her mother) it was hard to get into her head and really know what she was feeling or how and why she was making her decisions—whereas there were pages and pages of her agonizing over Ginny.She had her friend Charles, but they never really had any real conversation, and while she crushed on Winnow and was filled with angst and desire around her, Winnow felt more like an exotic panic pixie dream girl than a real person (view spoiler)[I was also super weirded out that Nima was 17 and a rising senior and Nima was described as being around 21? That's a huge age difference (hide spoiler)]. The rest of the characters also felt one-dimensional and not fleshed out, even the absolutely fabulous Deidre, who was pretty much a wonderfully wise fairy dragmother to her expanding brood of reticent teens.I think my hang-ups with the story was that it could have been so much more. Particularly if the story had been told through Gordon's head because what a character. I want his story, particularly since Nima only saw what she saw and there is definitely so much more to unpack.Overall, the LGBT rep in this book is amazing, and I enjoyed the playing with "traditional" gender norms of what it means to be a man or woman or something else, and Nima's realization that while she might not find home in her boring town, she and her friends can go where they will feel welcome. I also enjoyed the underlying theme that you don't have to figure out what you are or where you are going right away, but can learn to enjoy the ride.I was just a little underwhelmed by the execution.I received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.
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  • Anniek
    January 1, 1970
    This story is just as messy as real life is, and that makes it very realistic. But it also made it, well, a messy read. There are so many themes and plotlines that the author could have easily filled three separate books with them, and as a result none of them get the attention they deserve. This made the book feel confusing and tiring to read at times. But I did love the way the main character gets to explore her own identity and how she fits in the LGBTQ+ community.Rep: biracial gay MC, multip This story is just as messy as real life is, and that makes it very realistic. But it also made it, well, a messy read. There are so many themes and plotlines that the author could have easily filled three separate books with them, and as a result none of them get the attention they deserve. This made the book feel confusing and tiring to read at times. But I did love the way the main character gets to explore her own identity and how she fits in the LGBTQ+ community.Rep: biracial gay MC, multiple LGBTQ+ side characters and characters of colour.CWs: (internalized) homophobia, (internalized) transphobia, misgendering, (underage) alcohol use, puking, violence, absent parent.
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  • winn
    January 1, 1970
    that was literally everything I felt the characters coming alive and it was so shocking to remember that they were in fact fictional. Nima and her father and her mother and Jill(mothers best friend) have such a complicated relationship that i really enjoyed.I enjoyed the themes of self discovery and self confidence that really shines in this story not just for Nina but for several side characters as well.Nima is a lesbian biracial girl who is struggling to recover from her mothers abandonment an that was literally everything I felt the characters coming alive and it was so shocking to remember that they were in fact fictional. Nima and her father and her mother and Jill(mothers best friend) have such a complicated relationship that i really enjoyed.I enjoyed the themes of self discovery and self confidence that really shines in this story not just for Nina but for several side characters as well.Nima is a lesbian biracial girl who is struggling to recover from her mothers abandonment and is also in love with her straight friend. Nima is trying so hard to spruce up her boring and uneventful life and she does just that as she accidentally stumbles upon the drag scene on the other side of town.CHARACTERS the characters in this book really made it for me. They were quirky in a realistic way that didn’t come off as the annoying “i’m not like other girls” trope. Nimas personality really shine through her actions and thoughts and I came to care for as a character. Her relationship with her best friend Charles is one J truly enjoyed. I appreciated the love and trust that was obviously between them and the utter platonic ness of their relationship( to clarify, Charles isn’t in love with his gay friend who is a girl) Nimas father actually grew on me. A lot. I loved his hippy pacifist way of thinking. He was so chill and cool and I wish he was my uncle because hot damn what a good person that man is. It is honestly insane. Nima ends up making friends with a drag queen named Deidre who ends up being Nimas mentor/friend. Deirdre is an extremely important and considerate person who I absolutely love. Nima also developed a friendship with local bully and bad boy who is struggling to feel comfortable in his own skin. Literally. This part of the story isn’t as explored as I would i have enjoyed but i thought it was done respectfully and an interesting side plot. RELATIONSHIPS... where to even begin. Nimas father and mother are no longer together after certain EVENTS that i will refrain from mentioning because SPOILERS but i will mention that i really appreciates the role Jill played in Nimas life and in her families as a whole.Nima and Ginny. Ginny is the a straight girl that Nima has been in love with for years. Literal years. But it’s never gonna anywhere and it’s really sad honestly. Some THINGS that Ginny did left a bad taste in my mouth but i will not mention these things because again SPOILERs but i didn’t like Ginny and that’s that.Nima and WillowWillow is a drag king that Nima meets at the first drag show she attends and she is instantly enameled and I honestly do not blame her. Willow actually likes girls so that’s a win. WhenWillow is introduces there’s this weird little like who is she gonna end up with bit where I was just like... wtf. I actually wouldn’t have minded if Nima has ended up with no one but apparently you can’t have a YA book without a romance in there. Overall fuck yes to that 4.5/5 stars
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  • Billie
    January 1, 1970
    This was quite good, but I felt the storyline about Nima's mother was under-developed and poorly resolved. And, maybe it's just me, but "Winnow" is an odd name and no one commented on it at all, which felt very weird. (5 stars for Winnow as a character though. And five fabulous stars for Deidre.)
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  • Avery (Book Deviant)
    January 1, 1970
    actual rating 4.5!! As someone who just recently met the drag community, I have to admit that I related to this book A LOT. there was a lot going on that was mostly resolved, but a little bit *more* would've been nice. full review to come!!
  • Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)
    January 1, 1970
    Full Review on The Candid Cover3.5 StarsKings, Queens, and In-Betweens is a book I had been anticipating for its unique premise. This book about new experiences and self-exploration is uplifting, and there is a strong cast of characters within. That being said, parts of the plot lag, which dulls the shine of what could have been a fantastic story.Admittedly, I don’t know much about the drag scene, but this book really opened my eyes as it follows a girl who learns about nightlife herself. The co Full Review on The Candid Cover3.5 StarsKings, Queens, and In-Betweens is a book I had been anticipating for its unique premise. This book about new experiences and self-exploration is uplifting, and there is a strong cast of characters within. That being said, parts of the plot lag, which dulls the shine of what could have been a fantastic story.Admittedly, I don’t know much about the drag scene, but this book really opened my eyes as it follows a girl who learns about nightlife herself. The concept of the book is original, and I enjoyed how it has a focus on drag kings, who get less exposure than the queens. As well, there is representation for a wide range of genders, sexualities, and ethnicities. Ultimately, this is an entertaining novel that encourages trying new things.❀ ENJOYABLE MAIN CHARACTERNima, the main character, is so enjoyable, and I loved being able to join her in her new experiences. She is both sweet and sarcastic, and she learns a lot about herself over the course of the novel. Nima has her share of struggles, such as having a crush on a straight girl, but her journey to self discovery and confidence is inspiring. The side characters in the book are also quirky and amusing, and I must say Deirdre really contributed to my enjoyment of the story.The one thing that bothered me about the book is the way it was executed. I feel like there are a lot of scenes that are unnecessary to the plot and make the story tedious. Personally, I found the scenes that weren’t about Nima’s experiences with drag to be flat, and the vibrance of the book is lost because of it. As well, I was left with unanswered questions at the end as there are some loose ends that remain.❀ LIVELY BOOK ABOUT SELF-DISCOVERYKings, Queens, and In-Betweens is an lively book about self discovery. I enjoyed the main character’s personality and the quirky side characters. While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t appreciate the way the plot drags or the loose ends left at the end. I would still recommend this one for its concept, however I think it could have been better executed.
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  • Nichole
    January 1, 1970
    Hysterical, heart-felt, and wholly relatable to the LGBTQ community, this book will prove to be a standout debut in a sub-genre of novels gasping for a champion. I love the thoughtfulness with which this story is told and the care put into the characters no matter how big or small their role. Also, I love Nima the most!!!!!!
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  • Kendall
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars* Thanks so much to Simon Pulse and Netgalley for graciously gifting me with the ARC of this one! I wanted to love this....so much. I loved the idea of a young lesbian of color being allowed to find herself and love amongst the backdrop of drag culture. I loved the fact that we get to see so many gender and sexuality representations throughout this story. But ultimately, it missed the mark for me.Kings, Queens, and Inbetweens follows Nima after she stumbles upon a drag show at a carniva 2.5 stars* Thanks so much to Simon Pulse and Netgalley for graciously gifting me with the ARC of this one! I wanted to love this....so much. I loved the idea of a young lesbian of color being allowed to find herself and love amongst the backdrop of drag culture. I loved the fact that we get to see so many gender and sexuality representations throughout this story. But ultimately, it missed the mark for me.Kings, Queens, and Inbetweens follows Nima after she stumbles upon a drag show at a carnival and is captivated by one of their kings while dealing with the repercussions of her mother walking out on her and her father several months prior. The concept was fantastic, some of the characters were quite interesting, but the plot seemed really choppy and I found the pacing weird. The romance actually didn't do anything for me...like at all. And in general, the relationships between the characters, (barring Nima and Deidre's friendship), didn't really make any sense. Charles seemed like a throwaway character, Gordon's arc didn't feel natural, and Winnow basically didn't exist. I felt like by the time I got to the end of the book, nothing had happened. I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something, but I was fairly disappointed in this one unfortunately. Content and Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, parental separation, cheating/infidelity, homophobia/transphobia, underage drinking, and again, vomit.
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  • Jennie Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    Such a fun read, just what my heart needed. A couple of storylines could've been fleshed out more, but I thoroughly enjoyed this inclusive and diverse book. Solid characters with a couple of standouts, the pace moved well, and I teared up a few times because I love when characters have the courage to find themselves.Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC
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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    Nima may be awkward and a little lost in her current life, but she's funnier than she thinks she is and she's so endearing. You can't help but fall for her voice and feel for her situation. While she may think life is boring and wants some changes she doesn't quite bargain for all she gets. Filled with Kings, Queens and in-betweens you really can't find boring between the pages of this book as the characters have huge personalities that you can't help but fall for. In this book you'll find a gir Nima may be awkward and a little lost in her current life, but she's funnier than she thinks she is and she's so endearing. You can't help but fall for her voice and feel for her situation. While she may think life is boring and wants some changes she doesn't quite bargain for all she gets. Filled with Kings, Queens and in-betweens you really can't find boring between the pages of this book as the characters have huge personalities that you can't help but fall for. In this book you'll find a girl searching for herself through her family situations, friendships and a possible new romance. Such a lovely story that really will captivate and pull you in.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings! Parts of this story were enjoyable, parts were frustrating. Some not-that-spoilery stuff ahead: As another reviewer pointed out, Deidre isn’t just a drag queen—she’s a trans woman. I think? I say “I think” because it’s never named, which felt VERY odd. The main character refers to her only as a drag queen, but Deidre uses she/her pronouns and feminine honorifics and...definitely identifies as a woman, even when out of drag. Actually, the book leaving out pretty much any ex I have mixed feelings! Parts of this story were enjoyable, parts were frustrating. Some not-that-spoilery stuff ahead: As another reviewer pointed out, Deidre isn’t just a drag queen—she’s a trans woman. I think? I say “I think” because it’s never named, which felt VERY odd. The main character refers to her only as a drag queen, but Deidre uses she/her pronouns and feminine honorifics and...definitely identifies as a woman, even when out of drag. Actually, the book leaving out pretty much any explicit discussion of trans people in general felt very strange. There were A LOT of moving parts and relationships in this story, some of which didn’t quite land for me. I did like Nima’s relationship with her dad—that could’ve been developed even further. And, again, like another reviewer mentioned, I was a little weirded out that Nima is 17 and her love interest is supposedly 21. That’s not that many literal years, but it’s definitely different life stages/experience. But that’s something I’m especially sensitive to, and may not be an issue for other readers.
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  • Sevairi
    January 1, 1970
    This arc was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.I’ve honestly never read a book like this before, but I can definitely say that I’m so, so happy that this book has come onto the scene.Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju is the story of Nimanthi “Nima” Kumara-Clark, a junior in highshool in the small town of Bridgeton. Nima is your average, everyday teenager of mixed race, trying to come to terms with many parts of her life. It’s been This arc was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.I’ve honestly never read a book like this before, but I can definitely say that I’m so, so happy that this book has come onto the scene.Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju is the story of Nimanthi “Nima” Kumara-Clark, a junior in highshool in the small town of Bridgeton. Nima is your average, everyday teenager of mixed race, trying to come to terms with many parts of her life. It’s been a year and a half since her mother left her and her father, and she can’t help but question her mother’s reasons. She spends her days with her best friend, Charles, and Ginny, the girl she has a crush on.When Nima explores Bridgeton’s summer festival on her own, however, she is introduced to an entirely new world she had previously known very little about. She discovers new friends and surprising allies, as well as a part of herself that she didn’t realize existed. This new self is one who can openly express love and accept love in return.Wonderfully written, this book will have you pulled in from the start. I really enjoyed the prose, especially Nima’s hilarious internal monologue. She’s a great main character and narrator, and though she is a teenager, Nima comes across as being more mature for her age. The only thing that bothered me was the use of brackets here and there, but that comes from a personal dislike of the use of brackets within the narration.Steadily paced and well thought out, the plot line takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, introducing readers to a strong cast of various characters along the way. Apart from Nina, Charles and Ginny, we also meet Nima’s father, her neighbour, Jill, and a gangly pair of teenage boys by the names of Davis and Gordon. Not only that, but readers also meet many other wonderful characters readers would not expect, such as Deidre, the fabulous drag queen whom Nima soon gains as an ally and confidant.Deidre, or Dee Dee La Bouche, was far and beyond my favourite character in this book. She’s honestly just fabulous and I genuinely wish I knew somebody like her in real life. Dee Dee proves to be a wonderful ally for Nima, as she helps her begin to accept herself and gain the confidence to accept and reciprocate love in so many ways.As readers progress through the novel, the plot line begins to take twists and turns. Author Tanya Boteju keeps readers on their toes, from one characters’ selfish intentions, to another’s struggle with self identity; unexpected allies and surprising revelations.Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is one young adult novel that is incredibly difficult to put down. Readers will find themselves locked into an incredibly unforgettable journey of self-love and acceptance. This is definitely a must-read of 2019 and this book deserves ALL the hype.
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderfully vibrant and diverse cast with messy and realistic problems. I enjoyed seeing all the relationships, romantic and otherwise. Watching Nima find her path, blunders and all, was painful but heartfelt. Rather than promoting heavy drinking, reading about Nima’s drunken blunders seems like it’d put people off it, what with all the vomiting everywhere....My only gripe was the slightly abrupt ending; I want to see more Nima and Winnow! Wonder if I should book talk this for the 8th graders. A wonderfully vibrant and diverse cast with messy and realistic problems. I enjoyed seeing all the relationships, romantic and otherwise. Watching Nima find her path, blunders and all, was painful but heartfelt. Rather than promoting heavy drinking, reading about Nima’s drunken blunders seems like it’d put people off it, what with all the vomiting everywhere....My only gripe was the slightly abrupt ending; I want to see more Nima and Winnow! Wonder if I should book talk this for the 8th graders...
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  • Seth
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVE this book. It feels so freeing and real. It's a great adventure about finding yourself but still knowing that won't ever really end. Read it!
  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a funny, endearing, big-hearted book. It felt like giving my soul a big hug. I loved it, even though the characters were often frustrating.
  • temi ★
    January 1, 1970
    this cover? ✔this title? ✔✔✔this synopsis? ✔✔✔✔✔✔ this cover? ✔️this title? ✔️✔️✔️this synopsis? ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
  • Mariana Calderon
    January 1, 1970
    An #ownvoices book:Kings, Queens, & In-betweens by Tanya Boteju May 7th release I came across this books while searching through 2019 releases for Lgbtq+ YA for my queer teen book club. (PS I just need to let y'all know that my store is called Second Star to the Right Books and thus I named the club Not-So-Straight On 'Til Morning)Biracial queer girl exploring drag & nightlife is a niche I was very excited to see checked!6/10This book is a balm to soothe the soul - with glitter, and spar An #ownvoices book:Kings, Queens, & In-betweens by Tanya Boteju May 7th release I came across this books while searching through 2019 releases for Lgbtq+ YA for my queer teen book club. (PS I just need to let y'all know that my store is called Second Star to the Right Books and thus I named the club Not-So-Straight On 'Til Morning)Biracial queer girl exploring drag & nightlife is a niche I was very excited to see checked!6/10This book is a balm to soothe the soul - with glitter, and sparkles, and lots of fabulous get-your-booty-in-gear believe-in-yourself magic.While I found the prose and parts of the storyline to be a little simplistic, I can't deny that this book is special. Watching the Nima navigate horrendously embarrassing situations made me laugh and cringe, but being swept along by Deirdre into the world of gay bingo and perfect outfits and drag was just absolutely uplifting. It's hard not to end the book feeling hopeful and rejuvenated.
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  • Fari
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 3.5 In my reviews, sometimes I talk about pacing or characterization or the writing style or plot but this is one of those books where I have nothing to say except how I feel. it's similar to the feeling I got after the and I darken trilogy where all I could think was "wow I feel seen.”I wanted to experience something vicariously through the book that I can’t in real life, that was my purpose for picking up the book and I’m very glad that it was fulfilled. The similarities between Nima a Rating: 3.5 In my reviews, sometimes I talk about pacing or characterization or the writing style or plot but this is one of those books where I have nothing to say except how I feel. it's similar to the feeling I got after the and I darken trilogy where all I could think was "wow I feel seen.”I wanted to experience something vicariously through the book that I can’t in real life, that was my purpose for picking up the book and I’m very glad that it was fulfilled. The similarities between Nima and I started from the beginning and just never ended. Brown girl, beyond mundane life, self-esteem shorter than myself, and other reasons that I’m not up to disclosing. Also, so many tears. Nima couldn’t control her tears and sometimes ended up crying in situations where most people would be able to keep their calm, which: Big Mood. Angry? I’m in tears. Sad? Tears. A little humiliated? Tears. Happy? Tears. I don’t have to be similar to the main character in a book to be invested in the story. Heck, I don’t even have to like them (as intentional or unintentional by the author). However, it’s just so nice when I see characters similar to me in specific ways. Lots of main characters are clumsy and like to read but how many of them have brown skin and originate from one of the countries beside India? It’s not necessary but it still feels so nice. I wanted to read the book to learn about the experience the drag scene and wow, it was described so vividly and with such a livelihood. The representation was great across the board in terms of the LGBTQ+ community: new and fumbling gays, seasoned veterans, drag kings, drag queens, trans characters, those questioning and those who have themselves figured out. I was also pleasantly surprised by the different types of relationships Nima had. The warm relationship between her dad and her vs the hurt when she thinks of her mom. The crushes she had to get over vs the blossoming romance. Friendships she had to fight for vs friendships she had to let go vs new friendships she forged. The different relationships were distinct and purposeful and it was interesting to see how Nima interacted with these different people. All in all, a good story, a fun story, a story for the heart. It didn't blow my mind but it did let me peek into a subculture, a scene that I've been curious about for years. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.Instagram
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  • theo
    January 1, 1970
    this book was mostly sweet, but also, in parts, very frustrating. spoilers below, but generally: if you're looking for a pretty standard coming-of-age tale, and an #ownvoices story about realizing who you truly are and who you belong with, definitely check this one out! it's very queer and very big-hearted and warm. -will i read more by this author? yes, definitely, because #ownvoices stories are important, and i think most people will have issues with their debut. but there were some things i f this book was mostly sweet, but also, in parts, very frustrating. spoilers below, but generally: if you're looking for a pretty standard coming-of-age tale, and an #ownvoices story about realizing who you truly are and who you belong with, definitely check this one out! it's very queer and very big-hearted and warm. -will i read more by this author? yes, definitely, because #ownvoices stories are important, and i think most people will have issues with their debut. but there were some things i found very frustrating, not the least of which was the main character, who spent the entire book repeating how boring and uninteresting and normal and boring and boring she was.OKAY, SO: SPOILERS BELOW !!!!SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS !!! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->the good: -side characters were very interesting and fun, especially deidre (although more on her later). -nima's interactions with her dad felt SO real and funny; i've had such similar conversations with my dad, and in general their relationship was positive and fun. -i also liked nima's nerdy friend charles, and winnow's apartment and roommates, which also felt very keenly realized. -this book very much did make me want to go see a drag show. the drag scenes were definitely fun and you could tell that they were coming from a place of deep love and admiration for/from the community!the bad: -the main thing that really irritated me about this book was its treatment of gender. for a book called "kings, queen and in-betweens," there was only one real non-binary/gnc character: gordon grant. his treatment and general presence in this book really pissed me off, to be honest. it started with an irritatingly on-the-nose "everyone is dealing with their own stuff" kind of plotline, and then, when his gender troubles were revealed, they were brought up so briefly and vaguely that it felt sort of shoved in there for some kind of token representation. -also, gordon was such an awful dick that it really didn't feel good to me; the one non-binary character is also a horrible bully? and nima feels like she has to be friends with him because compassion and empathy and whatever? it all felt very preachy and high-school-teacher. sometimes, if people are awful to you, you should just get yourself out of that situation. you don't owe it to people spewing slurs at you to unlock their tragic backstory!-nima is also constantly evaluating people's gender/sex when she meets them. instead of taking drag in the spirit of like, hey, "gender and sex are constructs and we're here to tear these binaries down," i felt that she spent way too much time obsessing about whether someone was a man dressing up as a woman, or a woman dressing up as a man, or whether they were a trans woman or man, "female" or "male," etc. also, there were references to genitalia that made me, as a trans person, veerrryyy uncomfortable! nima's obsession with body parts and medical sex was just squicky, to be honest. she never really had a moment where she reflected that gender was kind of fake, or that maybe, as a lesbian, she could still be attracted to someone who wasn't a cis woman. and i really expected that to happen, because of the drag community, and the title of the book!-nima herself was also extremely frustrating, and, in general, i would say my main problems with this book were editing problems. it reads like a debut novel, and was mostly enjoyable, but just needed more fine-tuning. and also maybe a trans/non-binary reader to suggest cutting the gordon storyline all together, or at the very least, changing it significantly. -deidre. as a character, i loved her, but i felt like i wanted to be reading her story instead of nima's. and nima's reliance on her, and her continuing support of nima, were kind of bewildering to me. this woman is a fully-fledged adult with her own problems, yet she was constantly taking care of and fostering nima despite pretty much nothing in return. it felt like a bit uncomfortable to have a black trans woman who is constantly at the beck and call of these kids, and who is literally described in promotional material for this book as a "fairy godmother." black trans women get exoticised and tokenized enough, and it was disappointing to see her constantly get sidelined and described as "magic" and "like a goddess" and what-have-you, because that's language that has been used to fetishize black tran women, especially those who do drag. ANYWAY. these are nitpicky complaints and that's why i wanted to put them under a cut, so to speak. because i still think you should read this book and/or give it to young queer kids that might be struggling. because it really does do good work to give a coming-of-age tale a queer spin, and that's very important for ya books! so, go forth and read it! and that's all your local cranky trans booktuber has to say.
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  • Charlotte Kinzie
    January 1, 1970
    The descriptive bit: Nima is “brown and queer”, in love with her straight best friend, Ginny and awkward as hell. The day she met Ginny, Nima threw up on her Reeboks; that’s the way her life goes. At the exact moment that she finally gets the courage to tell Ginny how she feels, Ginny stops her by telling her that she “loves her as a friend.”Finding herself stuck in, what she perceives to be a rut, Nima vows to spend her summer … differently. She wants to try new things, change her world and be The descriptive bit: Nima is “brown and queer”, in love with her straight best friend, Ginny and awkward as hell. The day she met Ginny, Nima threw up on her Reeboks; that’s the way her life goes. At the exact moment that she finally gets the courage to tell Ginny how she feels, Ginny stops her by telling her that she “loves her as a friend.”Finding herself stuck in, what she perceives to be a rut, Nima vows to spend her summer … differently. She wants to try new things, change her world and be someone interesting. She wants to make new and different choices!My thoughts bit: Determined as she is to have a non-boring, not-bland summer, Nima is convinced she needs to try new things. She heads to a local festival and one of the shows is announced as boys in dresses and girls in suits. Intrigued, Nima gets into the line up for the show and meets my favorite character in the book, Dee Dee La Bouche (Deirdre). This glorious gender-defying being takes Nima under her wing and introduces her to the world of Drag Kings and Drag queens.The show is all sequin gowns, Lady Ga-Ga, fairy wings, glamour, tattoos, black silk, and dancing. In the midst of the craziness of the show, Nima sees Winnow perform and feels a strong attraction to her. The problem is that Nima feels she isn’t good enough for someone like Winnow to be interested in and is convinced she needs to change herself.There are some marvelous characters in this book. I loved the way that the performers welcomed Nima into their world. They were all very respectful about gender and sexual orientation and it was a joy to read about a group of people being so inclusive.While the main plot of the story is about Nima exploring who she is, exploring her sexuality and gender, there are a couple of other interesting stories happening.Nima’s mother left her and her father without a word. As Nima learns about herself she learns some truths about her mother that are shocking and hurtful. The storyline wasn’t as resolved as I might have liked … but life doesn’t always get tied up neatly with a bow on top.Another interesting story is about Gordon… the local bully. He comes from an abusive home and while he was once on friendly terms with Nima, he has become an aggressive bully. Nima runs into Gordon one day at the art room and discovers that he is clearly having identity issues. I enjoyed reading about Gordon interacting with Deirdre and frankly, would have enjoyed a book about him. Again, Gordon’s story didn’t resolve itself at all – so I was a little disappointed in that because Boteju had created such an intriguing character. I’m guessing that Gordon is queer just from the limited things he says, but it’s difficult to guess how his life will have played out. I would really like to have read more about him.Overall, the story is lovely. There are some parts that are difficult to read. Some of Nima’s misadventures were quite heart-wrenching and I found myself concerned for her safety on numerous occasions. It was lovely to read the way that she found a way through the puzzles and trials going on in her life to a new beginning.The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: mentions of potential Body dysmorphic disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, Queerphobic behavior, and name-calling, underage drinking, binge drinking
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  • Zuri Scrivens
    January 1, 1970
    Nima Kumara-Clark is a queer, bi-racial teenager struggling to figure out her place in life. Lacking in self-confidence and learning how to move forward after a complicated familial loss, Nima makes questionable decisions along her road to self-discovery. She eventually finds herself immersed in the world of drag kings, queens and in-betweens, leading her to discover love not just for others, but for herself as well. This debut novel by Tanya Boteju was an absolute joy to read! It was refreshing Nima Kumara-Clark is a queer, bi-racial teenager struggling to figure out her place in life. Lacking in self-confidence and learning how to move forward after a complicated familial loss, Nima makes questionable decisions along her road to self-discovery. She eventually finds herself immersed in the world of drag kings, queens and in-betweens, leading her to discover love not just for others, but for herself as well. This debut novel by Tanya Boteju was an absolute joy to read! It was refreshing to find myself immersed in a story teeming with diverse characters, and although there were some loose ends by the end of it, I felt that it only added to the realistic nature of their lives. This book was meant to portray very real, raw and flawed lives much like our own, and I believe that it accomplished just that. The dialogue was spot on and Boteju’s character descriptions brought each one to life in full, vibrant colour. It isn’t often that a book will have me expressing myself out loud, but there was a particular moment that literally had me gasping and covering my mouth in horror. I knew at that point that this was a book worth reading. I often found myself chuckling along with Nima’s inner voice and her creative expletives, while the character of Deirdre was so well written that I couldn’t help but wish we all had a Dee Dee in our lives. Through these characters, Boteju breaks down perceived norms and stereotypes while intentionally withholding certain labels. Given that the title of the book is all-encompassing, I found the lack of using certain labels such as “trans/transgender” to speak to that very intent. The story is interspersed with numerous teachable moments that enlighten and offer a different perspective, such as when Nima discovers that drag queens can date girls, or when she informs Gordon that his statement about two girls together being hot, while two guys is sick, places him in the same category as people who would judge him for his own complicated identity. Within the first two chapters, there were several occasions where the language between past and present didn’t quite flow and I found myself a bit confused as to where Nima was narrating from; however, this was an issue that seemed to improve as the book moved along. As mentioned, there were a number of unresolved plot lines that might leave a reader frustrated, but it is my hope that Boteju intends to produce a follow-up book or two that will explore the lives of some of the secondary characters, such as Gordon and Deirdre. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this novel, and I look forward to future publications by this up and coming author. Thank you Tanya Boteju for your talent, and thank you to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to review this advance reader copy.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewThis was such a heartwarming and diverse read. The cast of characters were a broad spectrum of individuals, each of whom brought something to the table. This story had some of the most lovable characters, Nima, her dad, and Deidre in particular. It also had some flawed and problematic characters. There was a great balance to the characters in this story. The story follows a young woman, Nima, trying to navigate her way through high school ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewThis was such a heartwarming and diverse read. The cast of characters were a broad spectrum of individuals, each of whom brought something to the table. This story had some of the most lovable characters, Nima, her dad, and Deidre in particular. It also had some flawed and problematic characters. There was a great balance to the characters in this story. The story follows a young woman, Nima, trying to navigate her way through high school and her sexuality. Nima faces a lot of hardships in her life and has closed herself off as a means of protection. Luckily, Nima finds herself engulfed in the drag scene and welcomed with open arms by members of this community. Deidre and Winnow are both welcoming and patient with Nima as she branches out into this new world and learns that it’s okay to take chances in life. Throughout the novel, Nima’s inner monologue had me laughing out loud. She had a sarcastic and self-deprecating demeanor that will charm readers. Nima’s dad is always there in the background supporting her. He never passes judgment, never rushes her to talk about what’s bothering her. He’s a pretty amazing father and it’s nice to see that she’s always had someone in her corner.Not all of Nima’s friendships are healthy, supportive relationships however. Ginny and Charles are both rather problematic and not the most supportive of friends. While Charles did show some growth throughout the novel, I never did come to like him. Gordon, however did end up winning me over. As the story progressed, we got to see more of what was going on with Gordon and he became a more likable character as you watched him grow and come to accept some aspects of his life and embrace himself and the people around him.Another great aspect of this story is how much representation it has. This is one of the most diverse stories I have read in YA. There’s LGBTQ+ representation, racial diversity, drag culture. I think this is a novel that a lot of young readers will be able to see themselves in and I think it’s a story that can help a lot of people. This is an important read. It is lighthearted and fun, but also covers a lot of tough topics. I’m glad I decided to pick this one up.
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  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an ARC copy of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens in exchange for an honest review.RuPaul's Drag Race introduced me to the world of drag queens, but my experience of drag kings is much more limited, which is partly why I was intrigued when I saw Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens. I've never seen a book about the drag community before, let alone read one. 17-year-old Nima feels like she's boring and wonders if that's the reason why her mom a Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an ARC copy of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens in exchange for an honest review.RuPaul's Drag Race introduced me to the world of drag queens, but my experience of drag kings is much more limited, which is partly why I was intrigued when I saw Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens. I've never seen a book about the drag community before, let alone read one. 17-year-old Nima feels like she's boring and wonders if that's the reason why her mom abandoned her and her dad almost a year ago. The summer seems to stretch before her, but when she stumbles upon the mystical and magical world of drag and a host of welcoming and charming characters, Nima begins to let loose and discover a whole new side of herself. Boteju really nailed what it's like to be an awkward, unsure teenager. Nima bumbles through social interactions with sweaty hands and a trembling lip. She feels inadequate next to others, not exciting enough to be liked, and in an effort to seem cool, she often ends up making things worse for herself. I really liked her as a character because I could see her heart and how hard she was trying. She makes you want to be the Deirdre in her life and take her under your wing. Deirdre was my second favourite character, after Nima. I would love if she had her own book, a companion to this one.I think the story between Nima and her mom needed more time/needed to be fleshed out more. It didn't get enough attention in my opinion. It felt kind of secondary and it definitely felt unfinished. Maybe Boteju wanted us to feel that way and/or maybe there's a sequel in the works. Either way, I want to know more!
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  • Stephanie L.
    January 1, 1970
    I was really looking forward to Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, the debut novel by Tanya Boteju.The plot follows a bi-racial teen queer, Nima, as she stumbles across the world of drag. Like come on, that sounds like one hell of a ride but unfortunately the story falls flat.While I understand that Nima is a teenager, I thought she fell into the "dumb-dramatic-teenage-trope" a little too hard. Throughout the novel Nima continued to annoy me to no end with her ignorance, her self-pity, and thoughtl I was really looking forward to Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, the debut novel by Tanya Boteju.The plot follows a bi-racial teen queer, Nima, as she stumbles across the world of drag. Like come on, that sounds like one hell of a ride but unfortunately the story falls flat.While I understand that Nima is a teenager, I thought she fell into the "dumb-dramatic-teenage-trope" a little too hard. Throughout the novel Nima continued to annoy me to no end with her ignorance, her self-pity, and thoughtless actions (view spoiler)[ Didn't anyone ever teach her about stranger danger? Yet still she ends up inviting a total stranger into her house for a night. What further blew my mind was the reaction from her father...as in there was none!? (hide spoiler)] I kept shaking my head in disbelief as the story and the characters were so unrealistic, I just had a hard time connecting. While Nima makes numerous questionable choices throughout the book, I can't believe she still ended up with the girl (Winnow, a charming, poetic, older girl who likes to dress up in drag). I think the only characters I actually liked was Winnow (despite her choices in romantic partners) and Jill (view spoiler)[who shouldered Nima's anger for absolutely no reason besides unfortunately being on the receiving end of Nima's selfish mother, like-mother-like-daughter I guess... (hide spoiler)]I so badly want to say I enjoyed Deirdre, the drag queen in the story but to me Deidre or Deedee comes off completely inappropriate with their interactions and relationships with these 17 year olds, just so many red flags popping up in my head as I read.The conflicts in the story were poorly resolved or not even at all??? Still confused on how I thought important issues was wrapped up.Anyways, even though I really wanted to like this book I unfortunately do not.ARC was received by Netgalley in exchanged for an honest review.
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