I ve mentioned this before but Halse Anderson s Speak is one of my all time favorite books, YA or otherwise I recently discovered that she s written a handful of other books, so I ve been chugging through them So far none has been anywhere near as well written as Speak, but Twisted and Catalyst were competent and better than most of that YA drivel that is out there.Prom, however, is a complete turd Total dud Halse Anderson generally gives her characters a fantastic voice Her narrators sound I ve mentioned this before but Halse Anderson s Speak is one of my all time favorite books, YA or otherwise I recently discovered that she s written a handful of other books, so I ve been chugging through them So far none has been anywhere near as well written as Speak, but Twisted and Catalyst were competent and better than most of that YA drivel that is out there.Prom, however, is a complete turd Total dud Halse Anderson generally gives her characters a fantastic voice Her narrators sound like actual teenagers for the most part But not Ashley, the narrator of Prom Whereas in her other books, the narrators are upper middle class kids attending suburban high schools with realistic fucked up families and problems, in this book, Halse Anderson attempts to write from the point of view of a normal kid her choice of word, not mine Her vision of normal is set in an inner city high school in Philadelphia and instead of seeming realistic, it reads how an upper middle class suburban kid would picture students attending an inner city school Maybe they aren t going to college, but they sure will graduate from high school And their families are just large and poor but they re poor because their parents have working class jobs No one does drugs or anything worse than drinking And, of course, prom is like the most important thing ever and everyone has gobs of money to spend on the dance It s ridiculous and patronizing And I realize I m not exactly one to talk, being an upper middle class suburban kid myself, but Christ, Laurie, put The Wire on your Netflix queue and realize you know nothing about the world you tried to present in this book So the front cover has that last thing she ever wanted tagline and the word prom written in red with a knife or something, so i guess i was expecting a teen slasher type affair here, maybe So i kept expecting people to get stabbed, and then about 100 pages in still no one was dead not even the senile russian grandma and i was like huh, maybe this is just a whole book about some girl helping to plan a prom and possibly i m cool with that I thought TJ was going to be the obvious suspect as the So the front cover has that last thing she ever wanted tagline and the word prom written in red with a knife or something, so i guess i was expecting a teen slasher type affair here, maybe So i kept expecting people to get stabbed, and then about 100 pages in still no one was dead not even the senile russian grandma and i was like huh, maybe this is just a whole book about some girl helping to plan a prom and possibly i m cool with that I thought TJ was going to be the obvious suspect as the serial killer, but then it d turn out to be the russian grandma who had prom issues, but no, they just did a prom I couldn t work out what the last thing she ever wanted was in the end Re read in May 2019 I cannot believe I went for only four stars back in 2009 When I reread the book in 2015, I added the missing one with an irritated tsk of my tongue and gushed together a review And now, I have to simply say I love that book It s a favorite, that keeps getting better with every re read Kind of perfect, isn t itRead first in October 2009, Re read and reviewed in November 2015 Sad, funny, very realistic no high school fairytale and quotable UnderprivilegedRe read in May 2019 I cannot believe I went for only four stars back in 2009 When I reread the book in 2015, I added the missing one with an irritated tsk of my tongue and gushed together a review And now, I have to simply say I love that book It s a favorite, that keeps getting better with every re read Kind of perfect, isn t itRead first in October 2009, Re read and reviewed in November 2015 Sad, funny, very realistic no high school fairytale and quotable Underprivileged high school senior Ashley Hannigan tries hard not to drop out of school during the last months She hasdetentions lined up than days left to sit them off, works her butt off at a pizza parlor in a Romping Rat costume, lives with three siblings and another in the making in a house that is constantly under repair, because her dad hasenthusiasm than time or money, and dates bass ass TJ, who is not allowed to show himself on school grounds any, but is proud to have secured a one room flat with a curtained off loo for himself and the woman of his dreams Ashley s best friend is Natalia, daughter of the Russian immigrants next door Nat s grandmother as well as Ash s mother s numerous sisters provide the light and hilarious moments during the story s course and head of the prom committee When the prom is in danger of being canceled, because a teacher stole the prom money, Natalia is devastated and Ashley prom hater superieur finds herself up to her neck involved in reorganizing a cheaper alternative just in order to fulfill her best friend s dream, her life and her attitude towards herself and her future slowly begin to change The story about a self proclaimed normal kid, bored, down to earth, without big dreams and almost no chance against a prejudiced vice principal, touched a core, when that kid decides to get her friend her night to remember no matter the hardship I have read reviews by readers who believe Ashley to be hard to like I liked her spontaneously and effortlessly But she is certainly no princess, even if her father calls her that and she spends too much time doing her nails She is an underdog And I was very pleased to see that things turned out realistically fine for her So I haven t quite finished this book but I ll get there today, and I decided to just write my review now since I have a pretty good grasp on this book over halfway through and the plot hasn t changed much from what was presented in the beginning, so I can pretty much guess how it s going to end If anything does change my mind about it later, I ll update this review Finished That saidAnderson s niche is young adult novels about suburban, middle class white girls with dysfunctional famili So I haven t quite finished this book but I ll get there today, and I decided to just write my review now since I have a pretty good grasp on this book over halfway through and the plot hasn t changed much from what was presented in the beginning, so I can pretty much guess how it s going to end If anything does change my mind about it later, I ll update this review Finished That saidAnderson s niche is young adult novels about suburban, middle class white girls with dysfunctional families and real world, pressing issues She is uncannily good at getting into the minds of this particular kind of adolescent girl, and she tends to present these characters as engaging and true to life, even or especially when they aren t exactly being the most sympathetic people at the time And then there s Ashley HanniganAshley Hannigan, a working class girl with a part time crappy retail job who somehow manages to come across as a spoiled whiny brat despite having almost nothing materially How did she manage such a feat Not sure, but after suffering through the 200 odd pages of her constantly whining and bitching and moaning and shitting on everyone else s attempts to give their lives hope and meaning, I was about ready to slap her Her inner dialogue about her family was supposed to come across with a kind of good natured, teasing gruffness, I guess, but instead it honestly read as hateful to me, like she genuinely thought all these nasty things about her family instead of exaggerating her embarrassment for comedic effect as teenagers tend to do Literally all she does the entire novel is gripe and moan and be a total buzzkill Ashley is a fun sponge, and further she comes across as a huge bitch about it because it s obvious why all her friends care so much about having a nice prom because they have NOTHING ELSE going for them Ashley even acknowledges at several points in the book that she understands why prom is so important to her friends, particularly her best friend, and yet she still won t shut the fuck up and just spend a week a week not even a month helping them out with it Then at the last second based on what another reviewer said view spoiler I guess she changes her mind and decides to go after all and turns her life around or whatever Okay I could have done without the 200 ish pages of whine whine whine whine whiiiiinnneee that proceeded that hide spoiler I resent even having to spoilerwarn for that since it s so glaringly obvious, but there ya go.I think Anderson was going for funny, here, with the constant whining Like, it was supposed to be some kind of witty sarcasm The book is clearly supposed to be a light hearted read for kids who may otherwise not read much or at all for pleasure the target audience is supposed to be girls like Ashley, who describes herself as normal, by which she means working class kids who aren t taking AP classes or applying for state colleges or whatever and for whom graduating high school is not really expected To that end, you d have to show this book to some kids like that to get their reaction, because I am not a teen about to graduate from an inner city high school, but I m pretty sure if I were around that age when I read this, I would have chucked the book in the bin not even halfway through It feels kind of patronizing, like a 7th Heaven version of bad kids in high school, where nothing really bad ever happens but is only alluded to, and teens smoke and drink mini bottles of flavoured vodka as if that s scandalous Like, I went to a good and brand new school and none of that was shocking or even out of the ordinary to me Even then I would have thought, damn this bitch is spoiled Then again, I was the kid who was mortally offended at being compared to Holden Caulfield, a comparison that was probably not strictly inaccurate, as I was probably as much of a little shit as both him and Ashley Hannigan here.I still don t like Ashley Fight me.It doesn t help that the book is dated Not dated enough to where you can say it s kind of a period piece, like the Sweet Valley High books before they got updated, but just dated enough that it makes the book seem evenout of touch with the real world than it already is To be fair, this is not the author s fault at all, the book was probably pretty up to date when it was written, it s just an unfortunate side effect of writing novels about teens technology progresses so rapidly in five, three, even one year, and suddenly you re like, How does this teenage girl not have her own cell phone How does she not even know how to use one well enough to know how to turn it off Who actually uses pay phones Doesn t anyone here use any kind of social media site They still make flyers by hand to pass information around There s a passage where Ashley suggests they make a video advertising prom and put it on cable TV, rejected by her friend because it would take an entire year, obviously dating the book as being from the pre Youtube and Facebook era Nothing Anderson can do about that, really, but it s just onething working against this.Twothings working against this and then I promise I ll shut up First none of the characters in this book feel like real people The antics they get up to feel like fake, forced funny or crazy anecdotes someone in a beginner s creative writing class might come up with to pad out a conversation The crazy old lady next door who breaks into the church baptismal pool and swims around Ashley s wacky family Her shrieking harpy friends who care about dumb stupid girl things like EWW PROM, unlike ASHLEY, who s NOT LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS Gag me.And the second thing So let s talk about TJ.TJ is Ashley s boyfriend He s 19 she s 18 , a high school dropout it is implied he wasor less driven out by the principal assistant principal whatever , and from a family that is, as Ashley says in the book, government cheese for dinner poor He has a sister with a newborn infant and appears to be living in a single parent household He doesn t have a car of his own, but he does have a job or several , and it is heavily implied that he mostly makes his money through some kind of underhanded means Probably not drug pushing, because Anderson is careful in portraying her protagonist s disdain for drug use in fact drug use is only visible in the periphery of this novel that s ostensibly supposed to be about gritty inner city life, drugs referenced only by nameless, faceless drug dealers lurking on city blocks and the again nameless, faceless crack whores who Ashley says attend her school I m thinking what happened here is Anderson decided to portray underage drinking as an acceptable kind of teen experimentation but thought that unintentionally advocating drug use to her target audience would have been too much, so she steered away from it Fair enough Anyway, so, TJ He blows her off at one point early in the book, but then apologises profusely for it He finds them an apartment, albeit a really shitty one that doesn t even have a real bathroom or kitchen, and he pays for it all himself despite the poverty he comes from He suggests to Ashley that she start working full time or get a second job to help them with their finances This is not unreasonable considering she s only a few weeks away from finishing high school And we are supposed to hate this guy We re supposed to see him as a big loser who s ruining Ashley s bright potential.But uh I don t know, probably later in the book there ll be a big reveal that he s selling drugs or cheating on her or something, but as of yet, he s not that bad OK, finished the book he wasn t pushing drugs or cheating on her or anything, he just suddenly turned into a complete jackass for narrative convenience, but for most of the book, he really did nothing to earn our contempt When he fucked up and blew her off, he made it up to her by helping her dad remodel their kitchen, then takes her out and apologises over and over and over, sincerely, even He never abuses her in any way, which is far and beyond what most YA male love interests can say he doesn t do drugs smoking pot comes up once big fuckin whoop he doesn t drink anythan she does He s kinda bad with money and not strictly on the right side of the law, sure, but he makes the effort to provide them with a place to live, food, and a future He has PLANS for their future, even, he has hopes and dreams, he s not just living day to day, he clearly wants to get out of the poverty he was raised in and that is actually really unusual in boys like TJ in the real world, who have spent their entire lives just scraping by day to day TJ, as far as I ve read in the book, has just kind of been a bit of, you know, A Boy, kind of a jerk sometimes, messes up now and then, but is generally well meaning He s better behaved than most of the kinds of boys Ashley would have been hanging around in that kind of bracket, you know So I had a hard time hating him the way the text kind of seemed like it wanted you to Compared to Edward Cullen and Christian Grey, TJ is fucking Prince Charming Maybe I m just tired of bad boys in young adult fiction who are just slightly scruffier versions of their clean cut good boy love triangle counterparts Maybe I ve just been looking for a bad boy in YA fiction who actually sort of resembles a real life human being and not a creepy abusive sack of shit Who knows Anderson really needs to stick to what she knows upper middle class white girls from Connecticut or Maryland or whatever Nothing in this book is realistic it reads muchlike what a nice middle class lady thinks the Scary Inner City Urban Youths are like Crack whores People go to jail Teenagers do terrible, bad, naughty things like, get this, skip class and drink wine coolers No research went into this, and no thought, so I have no idea why I m leaving a thoughtful critique on a really thoughtless book, but I have Feelings about YA, I guess, so there you go It was also disappointing to come to this book after reading Wintergirls, which has problems but is complex and well written, and Speak, which is basically perfect.Tl dr New to Anderson Looking for a good YA novel for your grumpy, caustic but bright teen daughter, niece or friend I d recommend Speak first Do not try Wintergirls, not unless you re sure your kid is well adjusted enough to not be triggered by it I don t think that book should be recommended to teens unless it s by an adult who is prepared to have a conversation about body image, eating disorders, self injury, mental illness and psychiatry with them As an adult reader, I wouldn t recommend this at all, but I suppose it wouldn t hurt to give it to a teen who likes light, fluffy books that aren t particularly challenging and who could stand to do somereading Which is probably condescending of me, but I think any kid who really loves to read would find this novel frustratingly fluffy or patronizing If you or your kid are interested in actual Gritty Urban Inner City Realness , though, then try the urban fiction section, with books written by people who have probably stepped foot outside of a gated community Ashley Hannigan is one of the few people in her urban Philadelphia high school who doesn t care about the prom It s pretty much the only good thing that happens there, and everyone plans to make the most of it especially Ash s best friend, Natalia, who s the head of the committee and has prom stars in her eyes Then the faculty advisor is busted for taking the prom money and Ash finds herself roped into putting together a gala dance But she has plenty of help from her large and loving if exasperating family, from Nat s eccentric grandmother, from the principal, from her fellow classmates And in making the prom happen, Ash learns some surprising things about making her life happen, too My first modern YA book that I ve read for my class this semester First of all, I forgot how awesomely easy it is to read at a lower reading level, these books are going to go fast I thought this book would be kind of cheesy, girly story about prom that would have existed in my day, a Sweet Valley High like story, but I was pleasantly surprised The story is about a girl who lives a low income life in Philly and ends up getting involved with prom after a teacher steals all the prom funds I re My first modern YA book that I ve read for my class this semester First of all, I forgot how awesomely easy it is to read at a lower reading level, these books are going to go fast I thought this book would be kind of cheesy, girly story about prom that would have existed in my day, a Sweet Valley High like story, but I was pleasantly surprised The story is about a girl who lives a low income life in Philly and ends up getting involved with prom after a teacher steals all the prom funds I really liked the main character and that the author did a good job of showing low income life without being cynical, preachy or looking down for the characters You don t often see stories written from the point of view of the kids not bound for college or parents who can t afford to buy prom dresses and you especially don t see them without any hint of let s collectively pity these kids and make an ending that will show us they can become like us if they really try Reading this book made me realize how many other stories take this attitude One shock I had is that the author allows the character to cuss and that the character also is sexually active But I liked that the author approached both things like they were just part of her world and not overly discussed or infected with drama I really liked this book Cute, but not spectacular I did appreciate the realness of the characters, though. Laurie Halse Anderson has long provided voice to the kind of teens that are overlooked by other authors the lonely introvert in Speak, the college obsessed Type A personality in Catalyst and, in Prom, she turns her attention to the normal kid Ashley isn t going to college her ambitions don t stretch further than having enough money to buy a car She has plenty of friends, but she s not the popular girl She has a boyfriend, but it s not exactly true love.Unfortunately, there s little plo Laurie Halse Anderson has long provided voice to the kind of teens that are overlooked by other authors the lonely introvert in Speak, the college obsessed Type A personality in Catalyst and, in Prom, she turns her attention to the normal kid Ashley isn t going to college her ambitions don t stretch further than having enough money to buy a car She has plenty of friends, but she s not the popular girl She has a boyfriend, but it s not exactly true love.Unfortunately, there s little plot to be found amid this carefully constructed milieu of average ness Anderson is excellent at world building, adding small touches that are both true and telling e.g fights at school are pure sport, just as long as the boys fighting are of the same race if not, panic The author also has a knack for creating comic situations and absurd details The result is not quite laugh out loud hilarious, but it raises the odd chuckle.However, Ashley is not a very sympathetic or interesting heroine Anderson s guiding moral in her teen books seems to be that community involvement and helping people will give your lifemeaning It s a laudable message and one that I agree with, broadly , but it leads to plotlines that are on the dull side Prom s central story, of teens banding together to save the prom at the last minute, is clearly a catalyst for Ashley to Become A Better Person, but I prefer my character development to be a littlesubtle.I m also not sure Anderson s ventriloquism of a white trash teenage girl quite hits the mark Regardless, choosing a first person POV centred around a girl who is wilfully sub literate Ashley doesn t read she s never used the school library robs the story of much of the texture that I enjoy in novels e.g metaphors, allusions even simple thoughtful introspection.It s an inoffensive little book and Anderson is clearly a skilled writer but I can t help but feel that these talents have been better deployed elsewhere Some spoilery thoughts below SPOILERSAfter the prom denouement, Anderson dispatches the story s various conclusions in lightning quick summary narrative It s all a bit disappointing The underwhelming conclusion of Ashley s relationship with TJ irritated me the most it was never clear how and why she had the epiphany that he wasn t good for her The repeated assertion that if she moved in with him, she d wind up pregnant why they were already having sex and using birth control was particularly odd Dumping TJ dovetailed problematically with Ashley s decision to go to community college as if she needed to be celibate and alone in order to secure a better future for herself I m not sure this was the message that Anderson intended, but it was the one that came across to me This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here I had high hopes for this book since I like most everything Laurie Halse Anderson does, but this book was a bit of a disappointment I like to read young adult literature to put in my classroom and to suggest to my children, but this one will not be high on my recommendation list It tells the story of Ashley, who is a senior in high school and is seriously dating her boyfriend, TJ, and they are discussing moving into and apartment He has dropped out of school, and Ashley is barely hanging on I had high hopes for this book since I like most everything Laurie Halse Anderson does, but this book was a bit of a disappointment I like to read young adult literature to put in my classroom and to suggest to my children, but this one will not be high on my recommendation list It tells the story of Ashley, who is a senior in high school and is seriously dating her boyfriend, TJ, and they are discussing moving into and apartment He has dropped out of school, and Ashley is barely hanging on Her family is poor, but her mother in expecting child number 5, as Ashley has 3 younger brothers Her father says he is making her a room in the basement so she will no longer have to share with her brother, but she has little faith in him Her best friend, Natalia, who lives next door, is helping to organize the prom But the young female math teacher has been arrested for stealing the prom money, so the students are told there will be no prom For reasons unbeknownst to Ashley, she volunteers to assist her friend Nat in finding ways to make the prom happen Nat s grandmother, who is Russian, also lives with them, and seems a bit senile, only speaking in Russian and eating ravioli out of the can Ashley works in a place very similar to Chuck E Cheese, which she hates, and her boyfriend talks about working but never seems to have a job The girls find a way to have the prom in the gym, Ashley finds a way to get a new dress, which her mom proceeds to destroy in the wash, but Ashley doesn t care she does not see any value in the prom But in the end, she decides she wants to go as she has been a vital part of the prom planning committee But the vice principal tells her she cannot attend since she owes too many detentions When grandma goes missing, Ashley decides that she must find her since Nat is at the prom with her father since she broke her leg trying t climb the stairs in high heels, and grandma had made Ashley a beautiful dress after her mother had ruined hers They end up at the high school, where Ashley decides to dump her loser boyfriend TJ who had found a disgusting apartment for them and only cared about getting her clothes off to use the condoms she had gotten for the prom, and getting high With a diversion from her mother, Ashley is able to go and enjoy the prom with her friends, until she is arrested for trespassing What I did not like about this book was that I never really felt anything for the characters they were not fully developed, and you never bought into their troubles or their victories While Ashley has some very admirable qualities, you just never seemed to like her enough to care This book prom is about a tradgedy that happend at schoollike a crime , and prom might be called off Everyone now has to save the prom on time, and forget all about there lives its a good book, It had me sucked in on some parts, and bored on others, but in all it had a lot of action and things to look foward to reading The characters are interesting and the drama is fantastic i enjoyed reading this book, its given me so many laughs i really hope you read this book, you will enjoy i This book prom is about a tradgedy that happend at schoollike a crime , and prom might be called off Everyone now has to save the prom on time, and forget all about there lives its a good book, It had me sucked in on some parts, and bored on others, but in all it had a lot of action and things to look foward to reading The characters are interesting and the drama is fantastic i enjoyed reading this book, its given me so many laughs i really hope you read this book, you will enjoy it, just like i have