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. 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 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 Underprivileged high school senior Ashley Hannigan tries hard not to drop out of school during the last months She has detentions 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 has enthusiasm 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 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 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. 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 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 life meaning 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 little subtle.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. 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 school like 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.