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“Dads can be such a drag

Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arms’ length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.

But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.

When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present, and her future.

Break in Case of Emergency

I got an ARC of this book.

Drag queen dads? I’m in. Except the dad isn’t even in the story for the first third. He isn’t on page much after that either.

The book itself wasn’t formatted well. I couldn’t tell when scenes would change. The MC would be talking to her grandma in the kitchen and then there would be a reference to the park and I realized the scene had changed and it was a totally different character. There were no page breaks or those fancy squiggles that would let me know that this was a new scene.

The writing was eh. There was a chance for a story, the story itself wasn’t bad, but the execution was pretty terrible. The characters were all flat. The plot wasn’t engaging, since I couldn’t get a feel for any of the characters. They could have been interchanged in pretty much any scene and the story would not have changed.

There were some wonderfully dangerous ideas about mental illness in the book. So schizophrenia (which is clearly what the author was describing, but to be fair the author only ever seemed to mention voices) doesn’t generally manifest in young teens. It is an older teen to young adult manifestation. The younger it manifests the more severe it is. So the fact that the mom was showing such severe signs at 14/15 shows either the author doesn’t know a ton about schizophrenia or completely undersold just how mentally ill the mother was. Either way, no. Then there were the super graphic suicide attempt. There was the constant graphic planning of multiple other suicide plans with no warning. But don’t worry, despite these graphic attempts and personally triggering me, the MC was able to stop being suicidal within a week of her attempt. She was happy and completely changed by the end of the book. The book takes place over about a week or two. So also, no. All the trauma that the MC faced would not magically be better because he dad visited her for the first time in 15 years.

The first suicide attempt also was after a weirdly graphic almost sex scene. The sex scene was not necessary to tell the story. It just served as two random penis jokes later in the book. They weren’t even good penis jokes. Instead one was an incest reference and the other was his penis looked like a pickle. If this sex scene was not the scene directly before the super graphic suicide attempt, it wouldn’t bother me that the sex scene existed.

This book felt like it was using the idea of gay, but without delivering on the gay through the whole thing. Here is this gay dad plot and he is even a female impersonator which is like high level gay. Yet, he never shows affection for his partner. At one point he is asked point blank if he is dating his partner and he beats around the bush. He doesn’t even openly admit to  having a partner. Only the people around him talk about him being gay, outside of jokes he makes, most of which are about him being a woman not him being gay. There is constant homophobia and none of it is ever addressed. It reminded me a lot of a “trans” book that was told from the perspective of the cis sister and had so little to do with the trans character that I just felt cheated. Welcome to the gay dad version.

I am just let down by this book. I almost DNF repeatedly.

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1 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.

~Isaiah