About the Book

Title: How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom
Published: 2019
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: (Mostly) Rom-Comtastic
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Easy Breezy
Bonus Factor: Fake Dating
Factor: Adoptive Family
Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You (But Maybe It’s Also Me)

Cover Story: (Mostly) Rom-Comtastic

Between the title and the side-eye leaning, this illustrated cover is serving real How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days vibes. But if I could pick a nit: what is with the olive-colored bow tie and socks, Nolan?! Tan France would NEVER.

The Deal:

At sixteen years old, Nolan has never been kissed, let alone had a boyfriend. Which is why his headstrong big sister ropes him into an elaborate promposal for his secret crush. To save himself the mortifying embarrassment, Nolan totally plays it off as an ask to someone else—who, of course, happens to be the school’s resident bad boy, hoping to save face after a highly public breakup. And now they have to keep up the ruse of dating each other until prom. 

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

As a CW super fan, Nolan is versed in the same pop culture language as FYA. He’s also really into art and horticulture, so he’d undoubtedly bring a unique perspective to the table. But a good character doesn’t necessarily make a good friend, you know? 

Don’t get me wrong; he loves the few people in his inner circle dearly. But he writes everyone else off as being an asshole, which reminds me of a Justified quote that I know despite never having watched the show: if you find that you keep running into them, then the problem might not be with them. Granted, Nolan has plenty of reasons for developing a tough shell, but I still get to reserve handing out any BFF charms until he would be more receptive to it.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Nolan is so not over his freshman crush on openly gay football star, Si, whose most intriguing quality is likely the pronunciation of his name. (It’s probably ‘sigh’—like the sound he would inspire from Nolan—but I keep reading it as ‘see’.) Bern, however, is more of a puzzle—a chest tattoo-having, motorbike-riding, lowkey math nerd kind of puzzle. Although contrary to what the sound of his name might suggest, the flames between him and Nolan are less burn and more simmer.

Talky Talk: Easy Breezy

I sped through this prom rom-com, even with the occasional pause when the zaniness became a little too extra. Nolan’s world does feel properly lived in, though, especially with how the same classmates show up again and again like they would at a real school. 

How the book handles sexuality actually reminds me of Schitt’s Creek stance on not depicting homophobia. There’s no angst over Nolan being gay, and the student body accepts that Bern would be into a boy even though his last relationship was with a girl (although Nolan himself is less certain, given their arrangement). 

Bonus Factor: Fake Dating

Nicole and Chase from Drive Me Crazy

Um, OF COURSE this is extremely my shizz. Fake dating leading to real feelings—such a tried-and-true trope!

Factor: Adoptive Family

Paper doll family (mom, dad, and two children) with a red heart above them and a paper cut out house next to them

Nolan began living with the Sheffield family three years ago and was subsequently adopted. While I love that this is a story about an adoptee in which the main focus isn’t adoption, it felt like some essential details were overlooked about their family dynamics. Even though Nolan seems to have good relationships with his entire adoptive family, he refers to them as his sister and yet her parents. The siblings are undeniably close (and OMG, her calling him ‘baby bird’ could be its own drinking game; it happens A LOT) , but Nolan’s relationships with the parents left me trying to fill in the blanks on my own.

Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You (But Maybe It’s Also Me)

For a book that should have checked so many of my boxes, I actually thought about bailing shortly after the date began. After we weathered that rough start, I did enjoy myself a bit, but our pairing definitely didn’t live up to its full potential. Although lately, I also realize that I haven’t been connecting with a lot of books that should be right up my alley, so maybe I need to rethink what exactly I’m looking for. So, uh, thanks for unintentionally sparking an existential crisis, Book.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Roaring Brook Press. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.