Tessa Masterson will go to prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9780802723598. 256p.
(Age: 13+) Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom is quintessentially American because the guiding assumption is that senior prom is the pinnacle of adolescence. The small town reaction to 'coming out' would be predictable except that it really happened and made the headlines. The authors each adopt the perspective of Tessa and her best friend Lucas as he struggles to understand Tessa's emerging sexuality.
The story begins just as Lucas believes his lifelong friendship has turned into love. He employs a very public grand gesture to ask Tessa to Prom. Lucas doesn't expect to learn that his best friend is gay at this juncture and is understandably humiliated. After the rumour circulates that Tess is taking a girl to the dance and planning to wear a tuxedo, Lucas in his humiliation, exacerbates the small town backlash to the point where the Masterson family business is threatened. It's up to Lucas to make it right and prove to his friend that he regrets making Tessa's life more difficult.
Despite being a YA book dealing with a sensitive issue, there are far too few adults supporting the beleaguered teen. No bullying or vandalism is rebuked and only Team Tessa supporters are suspended. The lack of caring adults contributes to our disbelief, when the school board cancels the Prom.
Both the fundamentalist Christian students and a good number of Lady Gaga's 'little monsters' decide that there will be a prom but does this really solve the problem? You'll have to submit to dual authorship to find out through the alternating perspectives of the central characters. This is an engaging enough school drama for lower secondary students.