Jayne and the Average North Dakotan by Chandler Myer tells a story of queer self-acceptance outside the stereotypical framework of young teens just figuring themselves out. Randy, our 33-year-old protagonist, has been aware of who he is from a young age. Still, between his family’s expectations and religious upbringing, he had long ago put to bed any thought of being open about his identity. That is until his dying mother pulls him aside and gives him one simple piece of advice- “Move to the city.” This starts him on a journey that will lead him to incredible new experiences as a tall, elegant drag queen named Jayne comes into his life. With Jayne’s help, Randy comes to a better understanding of love, of what it means to be a true friend, and of himself.
This coming-of-age story is packed to the brim with fun, quirky characters, each with a unique voice all their own, that are sure to stick with readers. In addition, it’s written with a degree of self-aware humor. The comedy definitely falls into a more raunchy category.
While the book is mainly comedy, and a laugh-out-loud one, it has its more heartfelt moments mixed in. I found the relationship between Jayne and Randy to be especially compelling, as for a majority of the book Jayne herself is a bit of a mystery. By the end, I felt everything had been wrapped up satisfyingly. While Jayne and the other members of the queer community Randy meets in the city had a lot of depth, some of Randy’s friends from back home came off as a bit stereotypical- a choice that felt intentional, providing readers with a jarring experience in places.
Jayne and the Average North Dakotan is a rousing coming-of-age novel with humor and heartwarming friendships. Filled with acerbically witty dialogue and insightful commentaries on gay culture, this captivating story is a must-read for anyone looking for a fun, lighthearted romp with LGBTQ+ themes.
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