When Justina’s best friend Ian asks her to go to the prom with him, she’s surprised. She’s never been the kind of girl to dream about the perfect prom night. She accepts, thinking that if anyone can deliver the most perfect prom night, it’ll be him. When Justina finds herself literally in a ditch after being kicked out of a car, she has to retrace her steps over the course of the night to figure out why Ian would ditch her and what she can do to salvage their relationship.
Robin Mellom’s debut novel is fast-paced and frequently funny. It’s also a little bit gimicky and saccharine. However, readers looking for a fun, light read about a disastrous prom night will find themselves satisfied by Justina’s crazy tale of woe.
The gimmick starts with Justina remembering the events of the night through the stains on her dress. As she tells her story to a gas station attendant (while snacking on the types of food found in a convenience store), she recounts the stories that led to each mark on her dress (which has shoes dyed to match it). While it’s a creative approach to telling the story, the premise starts to wear thin the further into the story Justina gets. As the night’s shenanigans get more ludicrous, so do the stains on her dress and the situations she finds herself in. While it’s certainly entertaining, there’s something inauthentic about the tale.
While the book is populated with a cast of vibrant characters, the short time span in which the story takes place means that the reader never really gets to know any of them. Readers can tell that Justina is a bit of a character herself and that she has feelings for Ian, but this is all through Justina telling, not showing. The supporting characters fall by the wayside, getting moments to shine but ultimately filling the required stereotypes for this wacky story. (At times, this feels like a novelization of a Disney movie.)
It’s an easy read, and it’s one that I’d recommend to reluctant readers. Because it’s pretty tame, it would work well for younger teens. The event of prom is guaranteed to attract a certain demographic to be sure. Ditched hits bookshelves today.
Ditched by Robin Mellom. Disney-Hyperion: 2012. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.