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Khanh the Killjoy

Really sweet prom story

Ask Again Later - Liz Czukas

Actual rating: 3.5

He proceeded to do some moves I can only assume are part of a war dance in some lost tribe of the Amazon. There were a mysterious number of elbows involved, and a face that was probably meant to be sexy but looked more pained.

Some things are universal, and a horrible dance partner is one to which we can all relate ^_^

This book was all sorts of adorable. This is what I look for in an YA contemporary. Light romance, adorableness to the extreme, silly and realistic teenagers, and a very likeable narrator.

No slut shaming. No love triangle (despite the premise), and really, just cuteness all around. My only complaint is with the Head/Tails alternate scenario premise. Why? What was the point? It's an YA contemporary, let's leave it at one single possible timeline, ok? This isn't a choose-your-own-adventure book. The alternate scenario is just pointless.

The Summary: Heart LaCoeur has a horrible name, ok? Let's get that out in the open. It means "Heart the Heart." It's Prom time, and she's got no time for that nonsense, no sirree. Heart is going to prom with a group of her friends, guys and gals. They call themselves the "No Drama Prom-a" crew.

So Heart's set to chill with her pals. She's got an awesome vintage dress. And it's going to be just great!

Until Heart gets more on her plate than she planned. For one thing, her brother volunteered Heart as his friend's prom date without her consent.

“Eh.” He shrugged and swallowed the last of his pizza. “Anyway, he already had tickets to prom, so I said you’d go with him.”

And to make it even messier...

Ryan beckoned me closer with a jerking head motion. “Listen...I was wondering...would you want to go to prom with me? As friends.”

WELL, FUCK. Heart doesn't want any of this. She tries to turn them both down, but there are problems.

“So...” He drew an elaborate, invisible design with his finger on the lab table. “Just pick someone and be done with it.”
“It’s not that easy.”

Seriously, it's not that easy. For one thing, Troy is the most pathetic, broken-down jock in the world. He just got dumped by his girlfriend, hence why he needs a date, and he's more teddy bear than tough guy. How can you turn down someone who looks like this?!

“If you don’t want to, that’s cool.” Troy looked down, and I swear to God, I thought he was going to start crying. Ginormous, six-foot-four, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound Troy Rafferty was going to break down in the french fry line.
“That’s cool,” Troy said softly. “Sorry to bother you.” He started to lumber away, and my heart crumpled.

NOOOOOOO. You'd have to have a heart of ice to turn him down.

So Heart goes to turn her friend Ryan down, only it doesn't quite work out either.

He smiled and laughed nervously. “I just feel like I should be honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t want you to think that I was asking you because...that we...that I...” He took a frustrated breath and let it out in a short huff. “I’m gay.”

*HOWLS WITH LAUGHTER*

So now Heart's stuck between a downtrodden, depressed teddy bear of a jock, and a gay guy who wants her to be his beard. NOW do you see her problem?

So Heart tosses a coin. Heads or Tails. Heads, Troy wins. Tails, Ryan wins. And thus, we get to watch Prom Night unfold in both scenarios. There will be torn dresses, drunken kisses, terrible dancing (Hint: gay guys are terrible dancers, too).

There will be horrible kissing experiences, designed to incite jealousy in an ex-girlfriend.

There was nowhere to turn when he laid a wet, alcohol-soaked kiss on me.
His tongue was like a fish flopping on a dock in my mouth, but hot instead of cold.

There will be relationship counseling.

“Ugh, maybe you are gay after all.” I crossed my arms.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, you’re into sports and you hate dancing, but now here you are giving me relationship advice.”
“You have way too many stereotypes in your head.”

And maybe Heart will realize who she should have gone with all along.

He laughed. “You’re having...thoughts?”
“And feelings. Damn it. Feelings! This is not on my agenda.”

Heart: Yeah, she's got a crappy name, and a crappy mother. Don't hold it against her. Heart feels like a realistic teenager. She is normal. She is not "quirky" or strange, she's got a sarcastic sense of humor sometimes, she tends to get snarky, and her internal dialogue gets to be kind of silly sometimes. The point is that Heartnever pissed me off. Like this internal monologue about the utter horribleness of her name, Heart.

Sometimes, people ask me what it’s like to be named Heart, but how am I supposed to answer that? I mean, how would you answer if a fish popped out of a lake and asked you what it was like to breathe oxygen? Apart from freaking out that a fish was talking to you, of course. You don’t know what it’s like to breathe anything else. You’d probably be like, “I don’t know. It’s okay, I guess. What’s it like to breathe water, Talking Fish?”

I would understand if you found her annoying, but I thought she was pretty cute.

Despite her name, Heart is a skeptic. She's not a skeptic in the sense of I WILL NEVER EVER EVER LOVE AGAIN BECAUSE MY MOTHER ABANDONED ME AS A CHILD. No. Heart is a skeptic in the sense that she believes in romance, she believes in love, but she is willing to take it slow. She is pragmatic. Rational. She is not a believer in fate.

“I don’t believe in fate.” It was automatic. My response since I’d decided not to let my maternal genetics and my porn-star name choose my future for me.
“Why not?”
“I don’t like the idea that I can’t control the outcome of something. Your choices should be the only influence in your own life.”

She is a NORMAL girl. She loves her friends, she is kind-hearted. Heart knows that a beautiful girl can be kind, too. She never, ever slut shames, and she calls out bad behavior when she sees it.

“Did you see the way Olivia went off? God, that girl would do anything for attention.”
“I know, she’s so pathetic.”
“I can’t believe she even got nominated for prom court.”
“It’s just because she’s going out with Austin.”
“Seriously.”
I wasn’t exactly buddy-buddy with Olivia, but my ears got hot with embarrassment and anger listening to them dissect her.

From confronting a bunch of mean-girls in the bathroom, to talking to her brother's beauty-queen friends. She never, ever judges someone for her looks. She defends the beautiful girls when she hears them being trashed behind their backs, and doesn't expect any rewards for it.

I had a feeling they’d both heard plenty of gossip about themselves over the last four years. You don’t get to be a senior looking like custom-ordered perfection without earning a little jealousy along the way.

Heart really did win over my heart.

The Other Characters: What made this book so fun to read was the fact that the teenagers feel like real people. These boys and girls could have been my friends when I was in high school. They joke around with each other, boys and girls can be friends without drama, they're a group of mixed boys and girls who just have a lot of fun with each other. They like each other, they laugh with each other, they have fun! And I had a lot of fun with them. They do silly things, they play lighthearted pranks on each other, they do dumb things. Nothing is ever outrageous.
This book really defies the stereotype that all pretty girls are bitches. There are numerous beautiful girls in the book, cheerleaders, prom queens. They may be beautiful, but they are portrayed as people, too. They're just normal girls who just happen to look pretty. There is never an attempt to hate them or to slut shame them. I love that about this book.

The Romance: There is only one romantic interest in this book, and it is predictable as heck. That's not to say it's not sweet. It's the friends-into-lovers trope, and it is so light and well-built, that I found it to be completely understandable. I rooted for the two. I wanted them to be together. I wanted to see them get past their misunderstandings, and I cheered for Heart when she got pissed off and told off the boy of her dreams because he was kind of an asshole.

“Uh-uh. I had no idea how you felt about me. None. And you know whose fault that is? Yours. If you wanted to ask me to prom, you should have frigging asked me. You don’t get to whine about it just because somebody else had the balls to do what you didn’t. I’m done apologizing to you.” I poked him in the chest. “I didn’t do anything wrong. Get over yourself.”

I love Heart's slightly cynical attitude. She's not one of those I-believe-in-soulmates people. She doesn't want to rush into things, and that's just fine with me.

“And you have to promise we’ll take it slow.”
“How slow?”
Blanking, all I could think of was my mother. I blurted out, “Well, like, let’s not have kids anytime soon, okay?”