Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Prom
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: February 2006
Genre: Realistic YA, Chick Lit
Reviewer: Hannah


Ashley, an 18-year-old Philly teenager, is a firm believer in her own personal religion of apathy towards all things prom. She views it as an unnecessary waste of money. Something too insignificant to get excited for.

Yet, all of her friends and classmates have been dreaming of this one night, this one supposedly magical and once-in-a-lifetime moment, their entire lives.

So, when the school's math teacher steals the prom funds, all they can do is watch in horror as their dreams are whisked away down the drain. Much to Ashley's surprise, she finds her heart going out to them, and decides to join the prom committee to raise hundreds of dollars for the sake of saving the prom; and her friends' hopes for an unforgettable night.


I believe that Laurie Halse Anderson is more suited for serious topics, surprisingly. Usually when YA authors attempt to write a "serious" book, addressing "serious" matters, it just becomes a mess. They should stick to fluff. But that's the exact opposite in this case.

Anderson's "Speak" dealt with social isolation and rape. It was an utterly amazing book and one of my favorites. Anderson's "Wintergirls" dealt with anorexia and bullying. It was a fantastic read; again, one of my favorites.

But Prom? It's about--you'll never guess--the prom. A bunch of girls raising money for the prom, amongst other unimportant relationship drama. I appreciate that Anderson took a stab at a different genre: more of a "slice of life" type story, less serious, a bit happier.

But, in all honestly, it didn't turn out so great. For one thing, Anderson's assumption of how lower-class Philly teenagers speak very much decreases my ability to take the characters seriously. The dialogue was forced, unnatural.

Ashley's relationship with her parents was a tad too ideal. Their interactions were--how do I put this?--they just didn't play out like a real conversation. I felt like I was reading dialogue from a play written by a 12-year-old (I wrote plays when I was 12, so I know). Everything falls into place a little too perfectly, the rapport is almost unreal. I'm not saying it's impossible for Ashley to have a good relationship with her parents--but the way it's structured is stiff and unrealistic to me.

None of the characters were likable, especially Ashley herself. I can tell that Anderson didn't put nearly as much thought, energy, and passion into her writing like she did with Wintergirls and Speak. While it wasn't an awful read, I do know that I'll never read again. And I'll probably have forgotten it a week from now.



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