Promposal by Rhonda Helms • Magan Reviews

Promposal Book Review by Rhonda Helms

Promposal by Rhonda Helms [twitter • website]
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 224
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: promposal, public displays of affection, LGBT, Dive Into Diversity
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: When best friends Camilla and Joshua find themselves in less-than-ideal situations for prom, one of them going with someone she doesn’t want to date and the other lusting after his male best friend who wants to ask someone else to prom, their usual gleeful attitudes become quite glum and they don’t know how to turn things around for themselves.

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In case you’re unfamiliar, a promposal is an often public proposal, in which one person asks another to the prom, eliciting joy or mortification. (Definition was copied from the Goodreads summary.)

Here’s a really sweet example to get you acquainted with the idea:

I’m going to make this a Why in 5 review to keep things short and sweet because I know you’ll get carried away watching more promposals after seeing the one above…

  1. Camilla has a massive crush on a boy named Benjamin. While they’ve spoken very little, she hopes that he’ll pick up on her crush-vibes and ask her to Prom. That isn’t exactly how things pan out; she’s asked to prom on live television by a guy she barely knows. How does she turn him down in order to seek out Benjamin’s potential offer? The answer: she can’t because she refuses to publicly humiliate someone. Camilla is a sweet, smart girl who finds herself in a sucky situation. It’s her senior prom and she’s going with someone that’s annoying the crap out of her. She’s got a huge heart and is so, so kind.
  2. Her best friend, Joshua, is by her side offering his best advice throughout her whole ordeal, but he gets a bit sidelined by his own drama. He’s gay and his second best friend, Ethan, has been his crush for years. Ethan is also gay, but seeks Joshua’s help asking another guy to prom. This entails brainstorming ideas and Joshua trying to disguise all his hurt because he wishes he could be honest with Ethan about his feelings.
  3. Camilla and Joshua’s situations aren’t enviable, but they’re handled really maturely and respectfully. A promposal, to me, is a little silly and I think in many regards it’s unnecessary. But it’s a thing now and I kind of had to get past my adult notions to embrace the concept. Helms did a great job including a current trend and not allowing it to feel extremely cliche and silly. I came to admire Camilla and Joshua as they grew to understand that the only way out of both circumstances was to either suck it up and be a loyal friend or to speak up and be honest. I really appreciated that Helms presented the idea of a Promposal as something a person might not be expecting and how it might feel to be on the receiving end of that; I’d never even considered this before.
  4. Promposal reads easily and was a quick, enjoyable book. The story is about two genuine, innocent characters who want things to finally work out for them. My one issue is that maybe sometimes Camilla and Joshua seemed a bit younger than they were, as in the language didn’t always match the mindset. (But I have to remind myself that I was that naive, happy-go-lucky senior so maybe I’m seeing the characters through my adult microscope.)
  5. The chapters alternate between Camilla and Joshua’s perspectives and neither story outweighs the other. This is a really well-balanced Dive Into Diversity book; we’re given an inside look into Joshua’s divorced family and how his Dad supports his sexuality and nudges him to make a few decisions regarding Ethan. (No, I’m not telling you what happens. 😉

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Dive into Diversity Reading Challengerather be reading worth it iconAdd PROMPOSAL to Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

young adult book review for adaptation by malinda lo

Magan: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

young adult book review for adaptation by malinda loAdaptation by Malinda Lo
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: conspiracy theories, political unrest, sci-fi and paranormal, sexuality, LGBT
Format read: Hardback received from the publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: After a freak car accident involving a bird, Reese and David awake from comas in a secret facility, where they’ve been treated for nearly a month. Upon their release, they have no recollection of what happened to them during that time and aren’t allowed to speak to anyone about what they’ve been through.

A story that involves secrecy and conspiracy theories? Sign me up.

Adaptation takes us on a wild ride as we try to piece together what happened to Reese and David after they get in a car accident involving a bird with glowing eyes: Where were they taken? What procedures were done on them? What in the heck happened to them in that facility?

Adaptation drew me in because I wanted to know the truth. I needed answers. Bird attacks have taken down countless planes across the United States and the government seems to be trying to cover up something. Reese believes it’s no coincidence that her last memory before the accident was a bird flying into the headlights of the car she was driving. While I was completely entranced leading up to the accident, my focus was a bit lost after they returned home to San Francisco.

The first 100 pages of Adaptation were strong and fast-paced; I felt connected to Reese and understood the chaos and panic that was overtaking the U.S. It was after this point, when David and Reese are released to go home from the facility, that I felt the story navigated away from its original purpose and became something else. Reese was never a girl who was interested in having a serious relationship — due to her father’s playboy-ish ways, she’s decided to distance herself from dating. When she returns home, she collides (literally) with a girl named Amber on the streets and a relationship quickly blossoms.

This is where I felt the story changed direction. Reese is trying to figure out who she is and is a bit confused by her sudden attraction to a girl. At least a quarter (if not a little more) of the book was dedicated to Reese’s sexuality. While I did enjoy this part of the book, I felt like I was left hanging and very little was progressing with what drew me into the story: what happened to Reese and David. I would have liked to have seen these two stories collide and more of David thrown into the mix to make Reese’s later confused emotions make more sense. (David was a character I wish had been more developed overall; for an event that happened to two people, the focus was primarily on Reese, leaving David very one dimensional.) While later the stories blended together, I felt much more dedicated to the beginning and end of the story.

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying – I do understand Reese’s questioning of her sexuality and how a teenager can put everything else aside to chase after love. (Raise your hand if you’ve done this.) I am not discounting the impact or influence Lo will have; I believe it will speak volumes to those questioning or seeking to understand their sexuality and it will resonate with those who have been there. I simply hoped that Reese had been more driven to find out answers about what happened to her. Adaptation would have been more impactful if Lo had fused the sci-fi beginning and end with the very contemporary, explorative middle.

Despite my drawbacks, Lo successfully left me aching to know what happens to her characters. The blending of paranormal elements and conspiracy theories was incredibly intriguing. Pieces of the story felt so real to me that I couldn’t help but be wary of flocks of birds when I saw them. I have no idea what will happen next for Reese, but I am very anxious to see what Lo has in store for us.

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Estelle: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic GRAPHIX
Pages: 240
Target audience: middle grade
Keywords: Broadway, theater, stage crew, LGBT
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Callie, a Broadway buff, is working behind-the-scenes of her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. As if working on the show isn’t dramatic enough, the older boy she likes won’t talk to her, she sort of likes another boy but can’t tell if he likes her back, and her little brother is going to drive her crazy.

I am absolutely giddy in love with Raina Telgemeier’s work.

Drama is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read and while it only took me about an hour to get through it, I couldn’t stop going back and smiling over the details in these colorful scenes and how perfectly Raina has been able to capture the middle school experience.

And for the theater lovers, finally: a book that celebrates those dear people who work on the stage crew, the kookiness that ensues, the intertwining love stories, budget constraints and trying to actually get people to the shows. (Plus the book was divided in Acts with an Intermission – such a cute set up.)

Callie is a theater dork in a way that I geek out over theater and books and Disney. She cannot contain her love of the performing arts and I love that about her. She doesn’t give a crap what other people think and good for her. Embrace what you love, Callie, and don’t let that go. She also falls for boys pretty easily and gee, don’t we all remember being like that in 8th grade? If it wasn’t one boy it was another. Raina’s creation of Callie’s wide eyes in particular scenes brought such comedy to the page. It was only one of the many small details that made such an impact. (I also loved the attention paid to Callie’s bedroom. You can learn so much more about a character’s background without reading words.)

Raina also does a great job of integrating a crew of multi-cultural kids (I came from a very diverse middle school so this was great to see) and also blending in a variety of characters with different sexual preferences. As I read more and more books that include LGBT characters, I am so inclined to hug these writers who are so keen on depicting TRUE life.

I can only describe Drama as a total delight. It has surprising depth but doesn’t weigh down the flow of the story or even the lighter moments. There are so many details to look at and take in when it comes to this novel, and I could see myself flipping through it again and again and always finding something new to love. The awesome illustrations and bright colors paired with a sweet story make Drama a highlight in anyone’s book pile.

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