Please Note: I received an e-book copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions of my review.
Synopsis (from GoodReads):For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.
When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.
With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.
Review:Before I begin, I have a confession to make: I never went to my high school Prom. It just didn't happen for me. No one asked me (and, embarrassing as it is to admit, I even asked someone & they said no!) and it was unheard of to go solo. So I was interested in this book as a way to experience something that I did not do myself.
This book is about a Senior named Bree who floats between popular, and less popular, cliques at her high school. She's dealing with her embarrassment over her parent's divorce, her ex-boyfriend's semi-stalking, and her crush over the popular jock, Sean, who sits near her in English class. Bree is starting to have panic attacks that only increase when a classmate, Maisey, commits suicide. Bree experiences guilt because, while she didn't actively torment Maisey, she was a bystander who laughed along when people bullied her. Things get worse when Bree receives a suicide note addressed to her from Maisey.
I think this book has a great balance between serious issues (such as panic attacks, bullying, and suicide) and superficial issues that can be overwhelmingly important in the moment (who will be Prom Queen?). Bree is lucky enough to find Sean just when she needs it. Here is a sweet, fun guy who seems to be perfect. But everyone has secrets, even Sean. I was a bit surprised that there wasn't more people upset by Maisey's death. Everyone kept talking about Prom as though nothing bad had just happened. You would think that the school would have had an assembly to talk about teen suicide or bullying. But that didn't occur. However, I think this emphasized how overlooked and dismissed Maisey was to those around her.
As the expectations of Prom approach, Bree gets caught up in the drama of dresses, Prom dates, bickering teen couples, and her own fears about fitting in with the "popular" kids. While I found the story riveting for how it would handle Bree's insecurities and panic attacks, at times the Prom drama was too much. Dresses, shoes, voting on Prom King and Queen? Perhaps, because I did not go to Prom, I can't appreciate how important this is to teens. But I think the author was trying to show how people get caught up in insignificant events in order to avoid more important issues. So, it didn't bother me too much.
I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I fluctuated between identifying with Maisey and with Bree. If you go to any high school, there will be students who have a great experience and others who just wish to get through it in one piece. Bullying is a serious issue at schools and I hope that people will read this book and recognize those kids who are overlooked and harassed and try to make a point to have empathy. Author Ami Allen-Vath has created an entertaining, thought-provoking novel and I hope it is read by many.
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
Recommendation: A story full of Senior Year Drama that Teens will enjoy.
Will I read more from this author: Yes!