Epically Earnest

Clarion. Jun. 2022. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780358566137.
Gr 9 Up–This reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest centers on high school senior Jane Worthing, who was found in a designer handbag as an infant and adopted by loving parents—the subject of a viral video that sometimes brings her unwanted attention. Her best friend Algie goads her to search for her birth parents. Meanwhile, Algie’s alluring but unattainable high society cousin Gwen Fairfax enters the scene, having recently exited a relationship because her erstwhile lover was of only modest wealth and pedigree, and was spurned by Gwen’s parents. Swooning Jane pursues her eagerly; Jane’s lack of aristocracy never proves to be a hurdle to their love story, and neither, refreshingly, does her gender or sexuality. Meanwhile, libertine Algie is pursued by Jane’s naive, lovesick cousin Cecil. Both queer relationships evolve without the conflict that their setups would seem to predict, and crescendo around a prom night for the books. References to teen drinking, underwear parties, and porn stars land this title on the decidedly mature end of the YA spectrum.
VERDICT While the plot is a bit lightweight and devoid of literary tension, non-stereotypical portrayals of queer identity make this a worthwhile addition to high school collections.

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