A Really Nice Prom Mess

Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
A Really Nice Prom Mess Book Poster Image
Strip club on prom night? Worth a parent preview.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Cameron sneaks away from the principal and runs from a police raid in a high-speed chase. A drug dealer makes him (and other teens) fake IDs. Virginia pees in the bushes of the Lincoln Memorial. Teens skinny dip in public. Cameron briefly considers committing suicide ("The Big S"). Cameron outs his boyfriend to his jock best friend. He throws a rock so hard it breaks his boyfriend's window, then convinces his new police friend to drive him away so he isn't caught. Some comments by characters reinforce negative stereotypes.


Cameron's boyfriend Shane punches him when Cameron kisses Shane's date.


Lots of sex talk, situations, and innuendo, manly involving a gay teen. Cameron attends a party where teens were "making out and getting it on." A girl wonders if there are "fag fish" who "can give each other blow jobs." Cameron kisses five people in the course of the night, including three adult strangers. Cameron goes to a gay strip club where he tips dancers and ends up with one in his lap. The stripper wears "glitter panties" on his "barely covered ass." Cameron enters an amateur strip contest where he learns "two teenagers bounding up and down can really get a bunch of middle-age men very, very excited." A teen girl tries to sneak a boy into her room by climbing up a trellis.


Lots of derogatory names for gay characters, including "fag," "faggot," "dyke," "fairy," "fudge packer," and "cake boy." Other language includes "bulls--t," "bitch," "f--k" (in various forms), "pissed," "ass," "dick," "asshole," "prick," "Christ on a cracker," "bastard," "retard."


Types of alcoholic beverages; Seventeen magazine; car brands; celebrities; product brands such as McDonald's, Old Navy, and Diesel.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of underage drinking to excess, including beer and Jagermeister. Mother gives her daughter a cocktail; dad winks at his son taking a bottle of vodka as "a little grease for the wheels." Cameron's date vomits and passes out. She smokes a cigarette because she says it helps her sober up; Cameron joins her so she doesn't feel "persecuted." Cameron buys pot and smokes it, finding the dance more fun when he is high. A drug dealer goes to a high school party to find teens so he can sell pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this novel gives a humorous slant to a lot of dangerous behavior by teens, including drinking, buying and smoking pot, eluding police, and visiting strip clubs. When one drunk teen vomits into a fish tank, for example, another character quips, "At least you won't have to feed the fish for a while." While the ultimate message is acceptance, the book reinforces questionable stereotypes (for example, when Cameron screams, he says, "I know I'm gay and a sissy and all that"; several adult men hit on Cameron and one informs him that in terms of sexiness, "in the gay world, a teenager trumps a twenty-something any day of the year.") Cameron briefly contemplates suicide; this is treated in a superficial way. Cameron and Shane worry about telling their families and friends they're gay, but everyone accepts the news pretty well, with one friend just upset he hadn't known the truth sooner.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written bypcnat4 May 6, 2010

A book with great laughs and characters you'll love instantly.

Though many people will look at the "Not Age Appropriate" sides of the book, it should not over look that fact that it’s a great book that will hook y... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Cameron and his boyfriend are still in the proverbial closet, so they go to prom together with their respective girl dates. The night starts badly -- Cameron's date, Virginia, is drunk and upset her guy is gay -- and deteriorates from there, as Cameron fights with his boyfriend, Shane, and gets stoned with Shane's date, Jane (but only after Virginia's hair catches on fire). Over the course of the evening, he runs away with a Russian drug dealer, enters a gay strip contest, flees from police in a high-speed chase, and befriends a handsome cop. As Cameron notes, \"the arc of my prom night was headed toward the toilet with touchdown likely in the jailhouse crapper.\"

Is it any good?

Teens may enjoy this madcap adventure, though it veers from ridiculous to absurd to preposterous. Cameron's first-person voice mannerisms can grow tedious and his epiphanies fall on the stale side. Readers may doubt Cameron's professed love of Shane when he manages to make out with four other people in one night.

Even as the unlikely coincidences rack up, though, Sloan keeps his main character grounded with heartfelt scenes, such as one where Cameron confronts his lying boyfriend: "This is not about your lame attempt to make everyone think you're straight. This is about us and the fact you don't love me. Period." There are a few gay stereotypes, but some empowered moments too: after listening to several people call him a "fag," Cameron finally bursts out that "using that term to describe us is incredibly offensive."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether a single night can live up to all of prom's hype and expectations. Parents can share their own prom experiences and how they coped with related pressures to drink or have sex. So many movies have similar themes, including the recent Superbad -- why do you think that is? What characters do you relate to the most?

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