April 2005

Planning the big night

By Laurie Halse Anderson
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Once upon a time there was a girl who served pizza in a rat costume. That was me. So begins the fairy tale of Ashley Hannigan, keen observer of her kingdom. No, it’s not Cinderella and her stepsisters, and it’s not wretched work doing chores while stepsisters go to the ball. Ashley’s real-world torments include a lousy job at EZ-CHEEZ-E, a home life where noise tied the house together like duct tape around a busted water heater, and the road to the ball the prom is paved with a series of unfortunate events, related with such humor and good spirits that readers will attend her all the way to her fateful appearance.

Not that Ashley ever wanted to go to the prom, and not that she could go even if she wanted to; she has too many detentions, and the principal is on her case. But her best friend Natalia Shulmensky wants to go; she’s been waiting for this all of her life. And Ashley’s organizing abilities and expertise at bossing people around pull her into helping Nat plan the big night. Stolen prom money, a broken leg, an injured foot, a ruined dress, a missing grandmother and police at the castle gates make the best laid plans a challenge for the most earnest of planners. But Nat’s pink notebook contains a vision of grandeur brought to life, and Ashley is determined to pull it off.

Perhaps the girls puking in the bathroom or performing oral sex behind the bleachers detract from the aura, but overall it is a magical night for Ashley. Even if the underwear model is lured away by a girl whose dress was cut so low she was showing nipple, it is a night to remember, a celebration of the normal kids. As Anderson says in her acknowledgments, this books serves as a rowdy shout-out to all the Ônormal’ kids . . . nobody ever writes about. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Prom is laugh-out-loud funny, and older teenagers will find themselves passing this book around and reading the funniest scenes to each other. This novel is sure to be a big hit, though language and subject matter aim it at older readers.

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By Laurie Halse Anderson
ISBN 9780670059744

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