Kim's Reviews > 21 Proms

21 Proms by David Levithan
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Sep 19, 2011

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bookshelves: mmxi, the-kids-are-all-right
Read from September 25 to 28, 2011


You may be surprised by this but I never went to Prom. I know, right? I mean, seriously… WTF? And, like everyone said… I regret it. I mean, if I had gone to Prom then maybe Derek Ducharme would have noticed me in my Micro short version extremely popular Sweet Dreams dress. A gorgeous peau de sois satin gown featuring a breathtaking skirt with gather detailing. A boned bustier, which fits like a glove, forms a charming neckline and proposed to me right away. We would have married after college, he’d be a business major and I’d stay home selling Mary Kay. We’d make beautiful babies that would grow up to be bullies that would spit on the silly goth girls at pep rallies and we’d laugh and laugh and laugh… Ahhh… If only…

Uh huh. And exploding monkeys eating pie will fly out of butt.

Why then… why would I subject myself to a book of short stories all about proms? Because these are some of the best damn writers in young adult right now. A few weeks ago I finished Geektastic and wanted more. MORE! I did falter a bit when I saw the topic. Christ, PROM? Who the fuck cares? Seriously… people treat this like a major life moment. It’s supposed to define you or your entire school self.. this is when you can get back at Troy Smith for letting go of Tyler Ferguson’s hand during Red Rover Red Rover causing you to fall flat on the cement playground knocking out your front top tooth in 2nd grade. This is your moment to shine, buddy. Well, Troy Smith is now gay and his BF is so freaking hot that you end up crying in the bathroom while Twissa-- the cheerleader that’s berated you for the past 6 years is puking in the stall behind you, her Bo Derek braids she and every other slut that went on the senior trip to the Bahamas decided was the cool look clank against the toilet rim. Yeah… good times, good times.

21 Proms is what it is. Kids obsessed with Prom. I wasn’t impressed with most of the plot lines since I could care less about the event, but the writing and the characters…well, I can accept the Under The Sea motifs for a bit. These stories deal with all the teen angst that high school can bring and yet some.. okay most… are endearing. Like the Libba Bray story 'Primate the Prom'…

“Flash told me about this movement. It’s called Primate the Prom. It started in Kansas, after what happened to William Lamb.”
William Lamb was a band-boy-cute seventeen-year-old from some small town in Kansas. He had a gorilla boyfriend named Johnny. The two of them tried to make a statement by crashing their prom. A mob of kids in tuxes and prom dresses beat them bloody and tied them to the flagpole. They shaved Johnny of all his fur. And William Lamb ended up with serious brain damage. He won’t date another ape. He won’t date at all.”


Yes, slick and snarky. But, fun all the same. The John Green story about Morps (backward proms… I guess all the kids are doing it) is wonderful, but John Green is wonderful as is Ned Vizzini and Will Leitch and Jacqueline Woodson and all the other writers in this anthology. This quote from ‘Chicken’ by Jodi Lynn Anderson sums it all up:

“ Do you ever feel like you’re living in a circle, instead of a line?” Ben asked. “Like, you never change?”
Elsie squinted at him, sleepy.
“Like, I’m me now,” he went on, “but I’m also me on this big hike my dad and I took when I was ten, and I’m also me the first day of school freshman year. And I’m me in the future. It’s like one of those wooden dolls. With all those smaller dolls inside.” He blinked up at the sky. “Even when I’m surprised by how things turn out, deep down I’m never surprised, you know? Because it’s all already there, and none of it disappears.”


Prom will always be. Angst is forever. Let them drink cheap punch and lose their virginity (do they still do that on Prom Night?) Some day they will rule the world.
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