Estelle: Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom By Brendan Halpin & Emily Franklin
Upcoming Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Pages: 272
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: eBook ARC from NetGalley
Why I wanted to read it: Prom in the title says it all!
Summary: Tessa and Luke have been best friends their entire lives. When a little bird tells Luke their friendship might be more than just that, he realizes he is in love with Tessa and plans a big romantic gesture to ask her to their senior prom. However, when Tessa admits she is a lesbian, Luke’s world is turned upside down as he begins to question just how close the two of them were. When the news travels around their small town, Tessa and her family are not met with support and must find a way to deal with the aftermath of expressing one’s true self.

Unfortunately the world isn’t as accepting as we want it to be. And it sometimes happens when we are our bravest and our most vulnerable. Tessa Masterson experiences this first hand when she declines her best friend’s invitation to prom because she can’t take it anymore. She needs to tell the truth. She is a lesbian and was hoping to go to prom with a girl. A girl she was secretly seeing. This happens very early in the book, and from there it divides into two distinct stories: Tessa dealing with her unsupportive and ignorant peers, neighbors, and most surprising of all, the loss she feels when Luke can’t deal with the news. That’s the second part. Luke is mad. And upset. Since they were little kids, Tessa and Luke shared everything. He thought he knew her better than anyone and suddenly, this. Okay, sure she always had a love for Katharine Hepburn but he never thought she would throw him a curveball like this.

So here we have two characters reeling from one admission, an admission that affects the entire town. A town that stops buying groceries from Tessa’s mom and dad. A town that wants to cancel prom just because Tessa wants to bring her girlfriend as her date and wear a fashionable tux. It’s a lot to take in. And Tessa is a slow-paced novel. I took it slow. Not because I wanted to. I wondered if this was the intention of Halpin & Franklin because the crap that Tessa faced was unbearable. The authors do a great job of getting us in her head. Practically her entire town, the one that has watched her grow into the person she is now, is so quick to judge. It’s disgusting many times. She goes through many different phases of emotion once the truth is out. It’s a lot to deal with and every thought and event feel painfully authentic, but they are filled with a quiet dignity.

Luke, on the other hand, is dealing with being the kind of person who does not hang around and support the friend that has always had his back. He’s hurt and scared and confused and his ego has been damaged. No chick flick in the world has taught him how to deal with his current predicament, and it takes a majority of the novel for him to sort through his own reactions to Tessa’s coming out and his own beliefs about friendship and acceptance.

While the slow pacing wasn’t exactly my cup of tea (and the title is too long), I did enjoy getting to know these characters and their friendship so deeply, not only through the current drama surging through their lives but with little anecdotes about how Tessa and Luke first became friends and other memories pertaining to their unique connection. Any reader will feel for them and wish they had a similar friendship in their own lives. I also think those teenagers (or anyone really) dealing with the fear of coming out or expressing their true selves without knowing just how people will react will connect with Tessa’s story. There are many lessons buried within Tessa, and they are worth learning. Most importantly, we get that other side — Luke, the person who is dealing with his own reactions to this news, his anger, detachment, and his inability to be a good friend when his best friend needs him most. From every angle, Tessa provides an honest account of a tough situation.

Be sure to keep your eye out for Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom on February 28th — its release day!

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