High school senior Ashley Hannigan doesn't care about prom, but she's the exception. It's pretty much the only good thing at her urban Philadelphia high school, and everyone plans to make the most of it—especially Ash's best friend, Natalia, who's the head of the committee. Then the faculty advisor is busted for taking the prom money, and Ash suddenly finds herself roped into putting together a gala dance out of absolutely nada. But she has help—from her large and loving (if exasperating!) family, from Nat's eccentric grandmother, from her fellow classmates. And in putting the prom together, Ash learns that she has choices about her life after high school.
In honour of my high school prom last week I decided to read a prom-related novel. I'd heard that Laurie Halse Anderson wrote on and assumed it would be depressing (as most of her novels have controversial content) but decided to read it anyways because I love all her novels. As I thought, I loved it and it wasn't sad, it was hilarious!
I presume most prom novels are about hyped up teenage girls who freak out the week before the event about their date, their dress, etc. Not Ashley Hannigan. She hates prom. Which made me love her unconditionally. In the mess of my hectic prom plans, Ashley's narration was a calm strong character to hold me character. I loved how she wasn't a goody-two-shoes, wasn't passing all her courses, hated authority, came from a less-than-functional family, but was still a hilarious and lovable character. Usually I sigh and groan about trashy or lazy characters but instead I thought it made Ashley all the more realistic and fun.
If you love Jaclyn Moriarty, you'll love this quirky and insane cast of characters. From Ashley's Mom who's about to birth yet another child to Nat's Russian Grandma next door you'll either be giggling with pleasure or wishing you were hanging out with them. I wish I'd had a group of friends as fun as Ashley's to bum around town with. I liked how the adult characters weren'tall stereotypical and had important roles in the novel rather than "be home on time!" I appreciated how Laurie Halse Anderson started with a romantic interest already established rather than focusing the whole book on "Oh, he's so dreamy!" and wrote him as flawed as can be rather than the typical Prince Charming we see so often.
Fun aside, Laurie Halse Anderson wrote Prom as she does all of her novels: full of run-on sentences of teen angst. She has such a unique writing style than effectively describes the teenage mindset and writes her narrator's thoughts as we would think, not how we should be grammatically written in a novel. Her realistic characters, dialogue, and settings are what define her as a YA author and I'm really glad that she branched out from contemporary realism to an equally realistic comedy.
Quote: "Catholics don't dunk. We dab. But wait, your grandma went swimming in the baptismal pool?" "Wrong. She is still swimming in the baptismal pool. She won't get out."
Recommended: Prom Crashers (Erin Downing), Wintergirls (Laurie Halse Anderson), The Year of Secret Assignments (Jaclyn Moriarty)
Laura (All the Word's a Page)