An anthology of 21 YA authors' stories, essays, and poems that revolve around going to prom, or not going to prom, or going to something like a prom,...moreAn anthology of 21 YA authors' stories, essays, and poems that revolve around going to prom, or not going to prom, or going to something like a prom, or thinking about going to prom. There was a good amount of diversity in this collection. If you're familiar with any of the authors' previous work, though, you'll find that they generally stick closely to themes and styles they've used before. John Green's story is characteristically knowing and clever, while Ned Vizzini's story is much like his bio in the back of the book -- full of equal parts ego and self-deprecation.
(I'll admit there were one too many chick lit stories in this book for me. In theory, I mean. In reality, I read most of this book while on vacation and found myself appreciating the predictability of the not-quite-popular girl finding like with the boy she least suspected.)
Some highlights: I really enjoyed Daniel Ehrenraft's "Better Be Good To Me," a story about a father's looking back on his prom night, and waxing nostalgic while warning his own teenage daughter about what can happen at the prom. Includes a hilarious glossary / epilogue.
Adrianna Maria Vrettos's story, "Mom called. She said you have to go to prom," was an absolute gem by an author with whom I was previously unacquainted. The characters plop onto the page, fully-formed, and they're gone before you even know what hit you. Read that one twice. Actually, I need to read it again before I return the book to my friend next week.
Jodi Lynn Anderson's "Chicken" was also an unexpected treat. Indeed, it's about a girl who knows a boy who has a pet chicken. The story's end is gorgeous. That's another one I'll have to reread.(less)
Polaroid photographer and thrift-store queen Ruby has her sixteenth birthday party interrupted by a surprise visit from her estranged father. In the w...morePolaroid photographer and thrift-store queen Ruby has her sixteenth birthday party interrupted by a surprise visit from her estranged father. In the week following, Ruby discovers that her best friend Beth has intercepted a letter from him, and the tension from Beth's cover-up and Ruby's hesitancy to visit her father at the Holiday Inn by the highway is what drives the rest of Siobhan Vivian's debut novel. Overall, a good read, populated by realistic characters who aren't overtly clever, "quirky," or snarky (a refreshing change). The book lags a bit in the middle, but the last few chapters are fantastic -- fast-paced and not lacking in emotional wallop. I look forward to Vivian's next novel. (less)
Matisse Osgood's natural habitat is the Upper West Side of Manhattan. However, when her father's Parkinson's Disease symptoms worsen, her parents make...moreMatisse Osgood's natural habitat is the Upper West Side of Manhattan. However, when her father's Parkinson's Disease symptoms worsen, her parents make the executive decision to move to Prague, New York, a small town where the local teens take football pep rallies and annual hayrides very seriously. Far too seriously, in Matisse's opinion. While she appreciates her new friendship with offbeat poet Violet, she spends much of her time trying to resist assimilating into Prague life, and trying to ignore her feelings about her father's worsening condition.
You can probably guess a few things that happen in this book. Does Matisse have that one good last-act cry about her father's illness? Yep. Does she, perhaps, literally try to run away from her family and her feelings? Indeed. Does a local boy, perhaps the one you'd least suspect, eventually capture her heart? Put money on it. This is a sweet, if predictable, story. Matisse herself was a thinner character than I would have liked. Her lack of interests and quirks irked me -- she likes New York, making out with boys, listening to ABBA when she's down, and...? It's a short-story level of characterization drawn out over 247 pages.
The characters of Matisse's parents and her friends Violet and Hal, however, are extremely well-drawn. They were much fuller characters, people I could see existing before and after the time over which the novel's set. The very last scene, a brief moment between Matisse and her father, is a wonderful slice of life that brings a lot of elements of the novel together. (less)