books and reading · reviews

Tessa Masterson WILL Go To Prom by Brendan Halpin & Emily Franklin

Lucas and Tessa have been friends forever.  Everyone in their small Indiana town thinks they’ll eventually get together–and no one is surprised when Lucas asks Tessa to their senior prom.  What is surprising is that Tessa says no–and comes out to Lucas.  Humiliated, Lucas feels betrayed.  As gossip about Tessa spreads, things get worse–her decision to take a girl to prom and wear a tuxedo doesn’t go unnoticed–and soon the school board is weighing in on the controversy.  Lucas has to decide if he will stand up for Tessa’s right to go to prom, or if he”ll stand idly by and watch the town turn on her.

This is the third split-POV from Halpin and Franklin (they collaborated most notably on Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance), and while it is unapologetic about its ripped-from-the-headlines story, it’s also a really really important novel for teens.  Although it occasionally dips into overly-didactic territory, the authors manage to craft a sweet, funny, and absolutely heartfelt tale about friendship, identity, and our right to love.

The novel’s relatively short chapters, alternating between Lucas’s and Tessa’s narration, make the story fairly accessible to a wide range of readers.  There are some moments of genuine humor present, and both narrators are inherently likeable.  Readers will sympathize with both Tessa and Lucas as they struggle to come to terms with Tessa’s coming out.

Although Lucas’s ultimate gesture is a bit of a stretch, the novel’s climax and denouement offer a happy, hopeful resolution to a story that is emotional on a number of fronts.  It’s cautiously upbeat, which is a message that is especially important given the political climate and the issues that GLBTQ teens face today.

Recommended.  Although it probably won’t blow readers away, it’s authentic and important enough to be on library shelves all over the country.

Tessa Masterson is out TODAY.

Tessa Masterson WILL Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin & Emily Franklin. Walker & Co.: 2012. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.

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