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Book review: Promposal by Rhonda Helms

In Promposal, by Rhonda Helms, best friends Camilla and Joshua are angsting about who their prom dates will be. Camilla has agreed to go with a peer who barely qualifies as a friend, even though she’d rather go with her psychology class crush. Joshua would love to finally confess how he feels to his friend Ethan, but instead gets roped into helping Ethan plan the perfect promposal for Ethan’s crush.

 

(Digression: You know what promposals are, right? They’re the over-the-top gestures now commonly used by teenagers to ask one another to prom. Go check out this images search for just a taste of what they look like.

 

Here’s the thing: I was a conscientious objector of prom in high school. I had a boyfriend both years, but would rather have eaten nails than gotten dressed up and gone to dance with my classmates. I know—hating prom is kind of cliché and hating high school is even more so. But whatever—prom, not for me. I also have replaced the part of my memory that covers the early 90s and high school with a black hole, but I’m pretty sure promposals were not a thing when I was a teenager. That doesn’t mean I’ve escaped witnessing them, though.

 

When I worked as a librarian at the high school here, I saw quite a few. Fact about me: I get incredibly uncomfortable for people when something awkward is happening. I don’t embarrass particularly easily, but I embarrass on the behalf of others pretty quickly. So sometimes a boy would come in and ask if he could arrange to parade in with friends and make a scene inviting a girl studying in there. Sometimes I’d see videos on kids’ phones about something that happened in the halls or cafeteria. It all made me itchy. I know there are plenty of cute ways to ask someone to prom, and I know stuff like that makes people swoony (a word I hate—I should add that to my reading pet peeves post that I’m working on). Be swoony. That’s cool. But all I see is awkwardness and the pressure to say yes because you’re on display. Also, this has probably just sealed the deal that someday my son will ask a girl or boy to prom in a super public way and I’ll die a little inside. Okay. Crabby old lady rant done. We now return you to your regularly scheduled review.)

 

Camilla and Benjamin, her crush, are in a psychology class together, where they are studying about social norms and pressures. These ideas play into why Camilla says “yes” to Zach, the boy who asks her to prom in an incredibly OTT way. Not only is it in front of lots of classmates, it’s being FILMED. For the NEWS. By Zach’s MOTHER. I know. She feels she has to say yes. Camilla and Benjamin get to know each other better as they work on their class project, which involves testing social mores and comfort zones. Camilla’s dodging Zach’s incessant requests to plan for prom, focusing her attention instead on Benjamin and how he keeps running hot and cold toward her.

 

Meanwhile, Joshua is kicking himself for waiting too long to confess his feelings to Ethan, thinking they’re too deep into the friend zone now. Ethan is somehow completely oblivious to the fact that Joshua is pining for him. Joshua’s dad urges him to just go for it and let Ethan know how he feels, but Joshua’s worried about being rejected and ruining their friendship.

 

I liked that none of the relationships presented (both those of Camilla and Joshua and of the more secondary characters) are cut and dried. Moves are made and feelings are revealed that don’t always go over well. There’s fighting and making up. Characters are sweet and thoughtful, but also act in selfish and jerky ways. The plot of this book could be summed up as “two teens want the boys they like to like them back.” Fortunately the things that fill that plot in make it feel larger than just that. I also loved that this book was 0% about coming out or Joshua being gay being any kind of issue. I love that we are finally seeing more LGBTQIA+ characters being a part of the story in ways beyond feeling “issue-y” or showing them facing some kind of struggle. Overall, this was a fun read and will have a wide appeal for fans of contemporary fiction. 

 

REVIEW COPY COURTESY OF EDELWEISS

ISBN-13: 9781481422321
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date
: 2/10/2015

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