REVIEW: The Prom by Saundra Mitchell

This charmingly honest young adult book based on the popular Broadway musical certainly will give hope to those who are struggling to be accepted.

It is no easy task to transform a beloved stage musical and transform it into a novel that still manages to capture the spirit of the show and the characters in it.

But while I have not yet seen The Prom the Musical, I still get the impression that Saundra Mitchell’s take on the story remains faithful to the original book for the stage show, written by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin.

The novel is warm, immensely likeable and will certainly provide comfort for those in a similar situation as Emma and Alyssa find themselves in as they are banned from going to their school prom together. But with the help of Broadway stars Barry and Dee Dee can they change people’s minds in Edgewater and get to dance together?

Told from both Emma and Alyssa’s perspectives, the reader is given a real understanding of the situation from both character’s view points. Emma, who has already come out as gay is being bullied terribly while her girlfriend Alyssa hasn’t – as she is worried about her mother’s reaction (rightly so given her antics leading up to the prom). As much as it is a story of them as a couple, it is the individual journeys they go on to finally accept themselves as much as getting others to accept them.

It explores the complexities and the courage it takes to be yourself – but also it is a celebration of love that is completely endearing to read. By teaming up with musical’s composer, lyricist, and playwright it really feels as though Mitchell’s story jumps off the page and retains the spirit of the characters. One particular standout moment, Barry challenges the kids about their attitude towards Emma -by throwing quotes from the bible at them that really proves to be a turning point and highlighting the frankness and honesty in the story.

Just as importantly, it highlights the importance of fighting for the important things in life – such as been treated as an equal – no matter what your sexuality is.

This is a sharp and pacy book and it would have been lovely if it had been extended a bit more to give more depth and insight into the other characters surrounding Emma and Alyssa – but essentially this is an uplifting story about first love and acceptance. Filled with hope and sincerity, this is a story that is worth reading for anyone who has felt like an outcast for simply trying to be themselves.

By Emma Clarendon

The Prom by Saundra Mitchell is available to buy now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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