Jules Vilmur's Reviews > Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin
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's review
Mar 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: ya
Read in July, 2011

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of “Tessa Masterson Goes to Prom” because, well … I'm cool like that. (Stop laughing. That shtick got me this far, sweetheart. The point is, I got to read it before you did and therefore, get to tell you how kick-ass it is.)

A simple plot summary might suggest that “Tessa...” is merely a ripped-from-the-headlines retelling of the events surrounding Constance McMillan's 2010 Mississippi prom controversy. However, in the deft hands of Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin, Tessa's characters come alive and the story becomes something unique, specific and utterly delightful.

Set against the backdrop of conservative small town which is slowly disintegrating, Tessa and her best friend Lucas struggle with questions of honesty and love. The poignant relationship between the pair, best friends since early childhood, was for me, a reminder of that bittersweet moment in time when romantic interests first overthrow the deep bonds of friendship in their emotional importance.

The big messages here are those of acceptance and loyalty. It's not hit-you-over-the-head stuff, but clearly woven through the unfolding events in a manner that should be accessible for both the intended Young Adult audience and the adult readers who love them. As a cultural commentary, I can only hope that this lovely little book will feel dated within the next decade, and be read then as a peek into what it was like BEFORE.

Halpin shines here (as always) with his ability to create teenage characters who walk, talk, think and behave like teenagers. It is one of the things which drew me to his work initially and one of the things which keeps me coming back.

“Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom” has taken up residence on my bookshelf, and not the casually overstuffed bookshelf in the bedroom, but the Here-To-Stay shelf in the living room. In this house, that's saying something. Mostly, it says, “These are the books we DON'T want the dog to pee on.” but in the story of our lives, that's kinda important.
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