On My Bookshelf: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

July 27, 2015

The Literary Maven's book review of Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, young adult literature.
Plot: Ashley just a “normal kid” trying to make it to graduation while avoiding detention and her vice principal Mr. Gilroy. She is hoping to move out of her parent’s house, a constant madhouse with her taxi driver father, bus driver mother, three younger brothers, and another sibling on the way, and move in with her sometimes flaky, sometimes reliable boyfriend, TJ.  To add to the drama, it turns out that the teacher helping with prom embezzled all of the funds and the students have about a week to pull something together. Ashley, who doesn’t even plan on going to prom, gets roped into helping out by her best friend and next-door neighbor, Natalie who is obsessed with prom. 

Why I liked it: You can’t help but love a book set in your own city. Prom is set in Philadelphia, my hometown. Though Ashley’s high school is a fictional one, other elements of the setting, like the 32 bus route, Ashley’ mother’s route, are real (the 32 goes through my neighborhood). Ashley and the supporting characters are realistic. Her parents and brothers and their antics are a constant source of humor, and Ashley has a witty, dry sense of humor, which is punctuated by the author’s writing style (sometimes chapters are just one sentence long for emphasis).  It was a great book to listen to on audio.


Classroom application: This would be an easy, light read for the end of the school year, particularly for seniors who could directly relate to Ashley’s issues. Prom would be a great mentor text for working on voice as so many of the characters have distinct dialogue. Students could also craft their own narratives focused around a prom or school centered issue, something relevant to their own lives, like prom being canceled, getting dumped before prom, being in danger of not graduating, trying to avoid serving detention, etc. Students could focus the plot on their character’s attempts to solve their problem.   

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Prom for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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