How Not To Ask a Boy to Prom

240p. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626724013.
Gr 9 Up—Goslee's (Whatever) sophomore effort is a tale of boy takes boy to prom, with a twist. Unlike other juniors fretting about college, Nolan Grant Sheffield is content to work at the plant nursery forever if he doesn't get into his top school. But among a long list of college prep plans, his older sister Daphne's making her never-been-kissed brother ask a boy to prom—or she'll ask someone for him. Nolan chooses his longtime crush Si O'Mara, out school football star and GSA president. But before Nolan gets Si's answer, classmate Bern intercepts the promposal to save Nolan from potential embarrassment. Suddenly, Nolan finds himself not only going to the dance with Bern, a guy who used to bully him, but also fake dating him. As the relationship starts to tiptoe the line between real and pretend, will the odd couple make it to prom night? With a colloquial tone, Nolan's first-person narration drops readers into the action alongside the humorous cast. Episodic time jumps read like cinematic cuts. Aside from the "dick drawings" on Nolan's locker and a few exchanges, the plot is refreshingly light on homophobia. The presence of multiple queer characters fosters a welcome sense of queer community—and that support extends into Nolan's adoptive family. Though race is not overtly described, character names suggest some diversity beyond a white default.
VERDICT A smash hit for teen romcom fans wanting a queer read-alike to Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

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