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We Were Promised Spotlights

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,054 ratings  ·  230 reviews
The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads to You in this queer young adult novel.

Taylor Garland's good looks have earned her the admiration of everyone in her small town. She's homecoming queen, the life of every party, and she's on every boy's most-wanted list.

People think Taylor is living the dream, and assume she'll stay in town and have kids with the hom
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Putnam Children's
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,054 ratings  ·  230 reviews

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Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
Absolutely gay trash. It’s so cool to see how far YA has come since I was reading regularly. There was good discussions of sexuality, and then there was drinking and sex and STIs and cliques and everything you want in a highschool drama. Just wait till the prom scene and watch our girl go full disaster gay. Anyways, it was quick and fun, and honestly kinda felt like another character in Euphoria ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Too many LGBTQ books come from the point of view from an outcast, trying to fit into a heteronormative world. Taylor Garland is anything but an outcast. She’s popular, she’s pretty, and it’s an open secret that her father is probably a famous movie star.

On the surface Taylor is the hot bitch in high school. She’s THAT girl. However, the book is from her POV. And that is refreshing. She’s neurotic, deals with internalized homophobia, and Is completely uncomfortable in her own
Mira Ptacin
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love every single thing Lindsay Sproul writes. In my opinion, she's the reincarnation of a modern-day Carson McCullers and I am thrilled that she will have more books coming out after this one. I love every sentence, and how strong and beautiful and rare her work is. Hooray for this book. I'm a superfan. ...more
Shelly D
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
OMG THIS BOOK!!!!! 😂😂😂

I’ve been looking for a narrator like Taylor for such a long time.

Though I wouldn’t call it a comedy by any means, this book and Taylor as a narrator both have biting humor, even in the face of difficult issues like homophobia, sexism, and the pressure put on girls and women about their bodies. Taylor is unlikable at first, but she’s so weird and insecure that ultimately I loved her. For once, the “popular bitch” is multidimensional. This barely happens in straight romance
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I'd had this book when I was a teen navigating all the cliques at school at the same time I was coming to terms with being queer. My high school career occurred around the same time (1999/2000), so We Were Promised Spotlights was particularly relatable for me.

Taylor is a product of her surroundings, her upbringing, her class, and for the majority of the book, she's only doing what she knows, what she's been taught. Being a mean popular girl is the only way she knows how to survive. In a
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is refreshing in several ways, and it’s also honest and brave. It follows the narrator, a seemingly unlikable popular mean girl (who I ultimately found hilarious, vulnerable and sympathetic), on her coming out journey, which is unlike any other I’ve seen before.

Yes, it’s full of homophobia, fatphobia and other triggering content, but... those things exist!!! Sadly, while this novel is historical, the homophobia portrayed (both internal and external) were prominent during the late 90s
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you’re a fan of Skins or Euphoria, this book is for you! Super realistic f/f romance... unexpected ending... beautiful writing.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was given an advanced copy in exchange for this review.

I am in love with this book!!! The ending is feminist AF. It was not what I expected to happen, and I love seeing girls choose to save themselves rather than let a man “rescue” them.

Taylor’s coming out story was unique and funny. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an awesome f/f romance.
On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mc, lesbian & bi side characters

CWs: homophobia, fatphobia (uncontested), lesbophobic slurs, child abuse, outing

Sometimes writing reviews of books you hated is easy. Other times, it’s like pulling teeth because you absolutely do not want to relive the book in any way, shape, or form. This book falls squarely into the latter camp.

I’m not quite sure where to start with this book. It’s about a closeted lesbian teen in a small town in America in the 90s. It doesn’t immedi
Anna Claire
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lindsay Sproul is able to capture the thoughts and voice of teens in a way that is unmatched. She takes such care with her characters and her wit is top notch. I love how this book flips the expectation of the underdog.

I love everything she writes, but this is at the top of the list! Gay AF.
THIS BOOK!!!!!! I am in love with it. It's an extremely complex story in the package of a "fun read," which it iS, but it's so much more than that.

It's not very often that we get the perspective of the popular girl--usually, this character is a pathetic stereotype. Also, it's not often that we see books that discuss the way physical beauty can actually be damaging to a girl or a woman--how literally everyone finds attractive girls threatening. This book NAILS IT. The male characters are threate
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel feels like a quiet rebellion-- it's 1999, and Taylor is tired of being the popular girl, expected to stay rooted to her hometown forever. As she slowly emerges into her lesbian identity and general sense of who she really is, she burns some bridges, while rebuilding others. We Were Promised Spotlights shows the middle-of-the-road struggle many teens often face as they come into themselves as people-- not completely miserable, but not necessarily happy. The fact that Taylor is so far f ...more
Kaylie Saidin
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This is extremely character driven, and there’s a lot of nuance to each of them and the ways that they interact with one another. The dialogue felt realistic and ironic and snarky in an authentic teenage-girl way. None of the characters were a one-trick pony (except for maybe Brad, which is fine because one-trick ponies exist in real life, too).

Taylor was the perfect narrator for this story. I felt sympathy for her and irritation toward her and I was ro
Michele Young-Stone
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I heard about this debut YA Queer novel on Twitter and from friends on Instagram. I don't think it even needs the labels "YA" or "Queer". I mean, it is a YA novel, a brilliantly honest, painfully raw book about trying to be the person others expect you to be, but aside from any categorization, it's a great work of fiction.

The characters are as real as everyone I knew in high school, and this book basically proves that high school today and thirty years ago and all the years in-between are very
Sophie G
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW... The notion that female physical beauty is threatening? To literally everyone? This is the first book I've ever seen that deals with that topic, and it's even better/more complex that the character is queer. This is a THING, people!

To all of you delicate flowers complaining about homophobia in this book, you need to realize that it's also a thing. Internalized homophobia was MOST DEF a HUGE thing in the 90s (especially in conservative small towns), and it sadly still is. This book depicts
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can also find this review at my blog!

I am so glad I came across this book. Taylor is a big disaster gay.

Loved this story so much because the perspective is quite refreshing. Taylor was a truly realistic character when portraying internalized homophobia and dealing with the expectations and image she has to hold when being such a public image as she is. We get to know how nostalgic she is, how she would give anything to be anyone else but her and while she can be a bitch sometimes, we get to
Waverly Tess
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I haven't written a "review" in a while, but I need to with this one. I may be biased, but this story really captured me. This was my first YA I've read in a while that I truly loved. I connected with Taylor Garland on another level. She brought me back to my high school years and made me remember ideas and poignant thoughts I haven't thought of since then. The sexuality aspect is beautifully crafted. There are some topics such as herpes, underage drinking, fame, sex positivity, and the "other" ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy in exchange for this review.

This book is refreshing. It takes a seemingly unlikable character (who I ultimately found hilarious and real and sympathetic), and the result is a coming out story that’s different from any other I’ve seen before.

Yes, there’s a ton of homophobia in this book, and while it made me uncomfortable at times, it feels important to show that the world was like this in the late 90s/early 2000s, and in many places, still is. So many of us still fa
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I've never read anything quite like this book--the word that comes to mind first when describing it is "honest." Sometimes, it's harsh. Sometimes, it's painful to read. Sometimes, it's hilarious. But it felt overwhelmingly real.

I recommend this to people who want to read a book where teenagers feel like real teenagers. Reminded me of Euphoria, Skins and My So-Called Life. The writing itself is beyond mo
Larry H
Lindsay Sproul's We Were Promised Spotlights is a story about owning who you are and making your own choices.

It’s 1999 in the small town of Hopuonk, Massachusetts. Taylor is the most popular girl in school. She’s beautiful—everyone tells her so—and everyone wants to be her and/or be near her. It’s expected she’ll be crowned prom queen and homecoming queen, and date the most handsome and popular boys in school.

It seems like the perfect life from the outside looking in, and even her future is
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Taylor is the queen of high school. Literally. She's the homecoming queen, and a shoe-in for prom queen. She gets invited to every party. Every girl wants to be her, every guy wants to do her. Everyone thinks Taylor's life is perfect, and that after graduation she'll continue living in their small town and have the perfect life with a husband and a few kids. Except Taylor wants nothing more than to leave town, and she'd rather be with her best friend Susan than have a husband. The end of senior ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
We don’t usually get stories about the popular kids, do we? Normally it’s all about the underdog and the ones that are different, popular becomes a synonym with being devoid of a personality or a life except to notice how pretty they are and how difficult they make the protagonist's life. Except in this story, the popular girl is the protagonist and if we can see her being a nightmare, we also see that she is a product and slave of the societal expectations put on her.

Taylor is not an easy chara
Olivia Wong
This is my FIRST advanced copy--thank you Edelweiss+! (this review is based on the uncorrected proof)

As a queer reader of a similar age to Taylor, I found her to be incredibly, almost heartbreakingly real. She does such terrible things, but Sproul shows us where this behavior stems from and why, and also invites us into Taylor's mind in such a way that we KNOW her. (Also--she's SEVENTEEN! With no retrospective adult narration looking back on her behavior, and her working class, uneducated backgr
McKayla Moors
Hey y'all! I discussed my thoughts on this book in my January 2020 Wrap-Up video over on booktube. Feel free to check it out! ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So, this book is not perfect. But. It was exactly what I needed these past few days, and also it was kind of perfect. It's just so exactly up my alley it's not even funny. And it was,,,,really moving?
I couldn't always tell where it was headed which is a bit novel for a ya contemporary, and a nice change of pace.
I kept hoping for certain things and being all "surely not" and then it would happen !! Like, honestly I would have settled for a little tiny crumb of development for heather, but she e
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
q15: this book has inspired me 2 start a new shelf of books where other reviewers are like “this character is terrible and unlikeable” and i’m like “ah! myself!”
i loooooove queer coming of age narratives and small town stories & this reminded me of both the miseducation of cameron post and the spaces between us in v good ways

“i wanted my best friend, susan, to hug me for a really, really, realy long time while i buried my face in her stomach and melissa etheridge played in the background. i wan
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was everything I’d hoped it be!
Kylie B
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was definitely the unique book I was looking for when my senior year of high school was cancelled. (Thank you, Lindsay Sproul, for letting my live vicariously through Taylor's!) I know lots of people won't like Taylor, and I get that, but I thought she was funny and weird and empathetic, and while this book isn't laugh out loud funny, there were so many parts that DID make me laugh. Ultimately, I found this book to be SO REAL in terms of what high school actually feels like, and I appreciat ...more
Sara Hosey
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This book is awesome. The voice is smart and authentic and funny, the characters are complex and believable, and the story itself just blew me away. I love Taylor--even when she isn't very nice--and I love the journey she takes in this novel. This is a book for everyone--not just young adults!
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Lindsay Sproul, originally from Marshfield, Massachusetts, is currently an assistant professor of creative writing and queer literature at Loyola University New Orleans. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD from Florida State University, and has received fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and MacDowell. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Epoch, Witness, T ...more

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