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What to Read if You Like The Prom, The Musical, a guest post by Teen Librarian Maisie

In case you haven’t heard, we’re talking about Broadway musicals this week at TLT and today we have a list of YA books you might like to read if you like The Prom, the musical.

The Prom is the latest Broadway show to get the YA novel treatment! The musical follows Emma, a lesbian teen growing up in a conservative town in Indiana. All Emma wants is to take a girl to the prom, but when the PTA catches wind of this, they cancel it. Help comes for Emma’s cause comes from the most unexpected of places—a group of slightly washed up Broadway actors who want to tie their brand to a cause to prove their relevance. Comedy, first heartbreak, and some big voiced classic Broadway style show tunes ensue!

This musical certainly didn’t get as big as others, but it has a solid cult following, especially of LGBTQ+ teens. Read-a-likes for this title focus on the prom as a setting, promposals and their inherent drama, and LGBTQ+ romances! Check the list out below:

The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical by Saundra Mitchell

Seventeen-year-old Emma Nolan wants only one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend at the senior prom. But in her small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon. Alyssa Greene is her high school’s “it” girl: popular, head of the student council, and daughter of the PTA president. She also has a secret. She’s been dating Emma for the last year and a half. When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that spirals out of control. Now, the PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother, is threatening to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway has-beens who see Emma’s story as the perfect opportunity to restore their place in the limelight. But when they arrive in Indiana to fight on Emma’s behalf, their good intentions go quickly south. Between Emma facing the fray head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it’s the perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for. 

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

High school junior Leila’s Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates at Armstead Academy, and if word got out that she liked girls life would be twice as hard, but when a new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual, so she struggles to sort out her growing feelings by confiding in her old friends.

How  (not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee

Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and very, very single. He’s never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It’s not like Penn Valley is exactly brimming with prospects. Unfortunately for him, his adoptive big sister has other ideas. Ideas that involve too-tight pants, a baggie full of purple glitter, and worst of all: a Junior-Senior prom ticket.

 Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin 

Feeling humiliated and confused when his best friend Tessa rejects his love and reveals a long-held secret , high school senior Luke must decide if he should stand by Tessa when she invites a female date to the prom, sparking a firestorm of controversy in their small Indiana town.

Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The sequel to Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book follows his best friend Leah.  With prom and graduation around the corner, bisexual and plus-sized senior Leah Burke struggles when her group of friends start fighting.

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way: She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog. Her crush already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after. Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick. And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland-ever-unless she can find a way to stop it from closing. 

Kings, Queens, and In-betweens by Tanya Boteju

After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town. Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be— one that can confidently express and accept love.

Social Intercourse by Greg Howard

Told from both viewpoints, Beckett Gaines, an out-and-proud choir member, and star quarterback Jaxon Parker team up to derail the budding romance between their parents.

A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan

Gay high school senior Cameron Hayes endures a disastrous prom night when forced to take a girl as his date, and after fleeing the dance in disguise, he finds himself involved in a surprising on-stage performance, a high-speed police chase, and unexpected revelations.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul’s simple high-school life is confused by his desire for another boy who seems unattainable, until Paul’s friends help him find the courage to pursue the object of his affections.

It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters

Told in separate voices, Azure, who is a lesbian, and Luke, who is bisexual, help plan an inclusive senior prom while Luke is writing and producing a musical about his life, both are working through the crush they have on their friend Radhika, and all three are dealing with problems at home.

Promposal by Rhonda Helms

Camilla hopes her secret crush, Benjamin, might ask her to prom but feels pressured into accepting the invitation of a casual acquaintance, and Joshua has worked up the courage to ask his best friend, Ethan, to be his date when Ethan asks his help in crafting the perfect “promposal” for another boy.

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Maisie is a teen librarian for the White Oak Library District who loves musicals, bogs, and Diana Wynne Jones novels. They live with two fat cats and way too many plants. 

Book Review: Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath

Publisher’s description

liarsKeep calm and make it to prom night—without a legit panic attack.

For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I loved this book. It was the perfect mix of funny and serious. Minus the more serious themes, it would have just been a fish-out-of-water prom story, which I would’ve been fine with. But it rises above that (sometimes tired) idea and becomes a more widely appealing story with the addition of some complicated storylines. Mexican-American Minnesota teenager Bree Hughes never expects to grab the attention of her crush, Sean, nor does she expect to get elected to the prom court. It seems like lots of unexpected things are suddenly happening in Bree’s life. After years of fighting, her parents have recently gotten divorced. She’s getting into arguments with Kallie, her best friend, and keeping things from her. She’s becoming friends with the popular crowd. Perhaps most unexpected is the letter Maisey, her classmate who dies from suicide, leaves for her. We don’t know much about the letter until the very end of the book, but it’s intense.

 

Bree also suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, something she doesn’t necessarily think she needs help for. Her mother makes an appointment for her with a therapist, but Bree doesn’t see the point in going. Never mind that her panic attacks are debilitating and don’t exactly seem to be going away on their own. When she reluctantly goes to the appointment, she realizes how helpful therapy could be and changes her mind about needing help. It’s a wonderful look at someone being resistant to help, wondering what good it could possibly do to sit and talk to someone, who comes to understand how beneficial mental health care is.

 

Despite dealing with some serious issues, there’s also lots of romance in this story. Bree is so awkward and nervous at the beginning of her relationship with Sean. Their relationship grows in a very believable way. The large cast of secondary characters means there’s plenty of opportunity for drama, cheating, lying, and backstabbing. Bree and her (new) friends prove that what you see is not always the same as what’s going on underneath the surface. Secrets are revealed that show many people in new lights. Maisey’s letter, finally revealed in its entirety at the end of the story, packs a powerful punch as she writes about popularity, cruelty, bullying, and painful secrets. A smart and satisfying read.

 

Review copy courtesy of the author and the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781634501842

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Publication date: 03/22/2016

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