A Really Nice Prom Mess

Common Sense Media says

Strip club on prom night? Worth a parent preview.

Age(i)

2
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9
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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.

Violence

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

Sex

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.

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY
 

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."

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Brian Sloan
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon Pulse
Publication date:February 19, 2008
Number of pages:297
Publisher's recommended age(s):14
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

This review of A Really Nice Prom Mess was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 13 year old Written bypcnat4 May 6, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

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 you in and not let go until you're done. It’s for any teenager to read if they feel like they have to hide who they truly are. The characters are relatable and you feel like you want to become friends with the characters. They're realistic and believable to read and you'll want to know what's going to happen next for them. It's a book that will entertain you and it'll teach you a lesson on lying and taking chances. I personally loved this book and have bought it to reread over again. I recommend people to read it to be entertained and have some great laughs at the characters predicaments.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages

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