The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High

The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High

4.5 2
by Laurie Boyle Crompton

See All Formats & Editions

"Smart satire and a rollicking good read!"—Jean Kilbourne, Ed. D, creator of "Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women" film series

5 News Press Release

WESTFIELD Reality television is heading to high school! Watch the drama unfold as the three biggest nobodies in Westfield High's senior calls get a shot at becoming


"Smart satire and a rollicking good read!"—Jean Kilbourne, Ed. D, creator of "Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women" film series

5 News Press Release

WESTFIELD Reality television is heading to high school! Watch the drama unfold as the three biggest nobodies in Westfield High's senior calls get a shot at becoming popular!

Our hidden cameras will catch all the action as they vie for the ultimate label of acceptance and popularity—Prom Queen!

It's no surprise to Shannon when she is voted least likely to be prom queen at Westfield High. That is until she's selected to co-star in a hidden-camera reality show, The Prom Queen Wannabes, and undergoes a complete makeover.

Now the social hierarchy of the entire senior class is about to be turned upside down. But when Shannon uncovers proof that the beauty business can be awfully ugly, she must find a way to show her BFF and one true crush that underneath the fabulous makeover, she really hasn't changed.

This prom night is about to shock everyone's corsages off.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Crompton’s (Blaze) fun premise is built around a reality show that aims to transform high school outcasts into pretty, poised, and potentially popular girls. If one of the three contestants can nab the ultimate prize—being named prom queen during a live telecast—she will win one million dollars. Shannon Depola agrees to participate, hoping to improve her reputation after an embarrassing incident made her the target of name-calling and harassment. After Prom Queen Camp, Shannon has a great new look, but while listening closely to her Social Advisement Coach may win her the crown, it could cost her the people she cares about. Shannon struts down a fairly predictable path that leads to some newfound insights (“I just really wanted to escape my life for a while”) and a live prom full of over-the-top mayhem. While readers won’t find many surprises, and the novel’s cultural critique is mild, its outrageous moments reveal how far the show’s producers will go to shape the reality they want. Ages 13–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"[A] fun premise...leads to some newfound insights and a live prom full of over-the-top mayhem." - Publishers Weekly

"Laurie Boyle Crompton creates a story that is relatable to any reader. With the theme of being true to yourself and not letting popularity get the best of you, we totally heart everything about this book. There are surprising secrets and hilarious moments that you surely won't want to miss." - Girl's Life

"If you're looking for a fun book to crack open, try this hilarious read." -

" Crompton perfectly captures the appeal of reality television... Fantastically fun, this is also about truth and a sizzling indictment of reality TV." - Booklist

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Allison Hunter Hill
Being voted one of the three girls “least likely” to become prom queen at Westfield High is not exactly a surprise to Shannon, but it does not help her already-flagging confidence either. With an incredibly popular younger sister, she already feels like an outcast. So when Shannon and the other two “least-likely” girls are offered complementary makeovers and a shot at competing for prom queen in a hidden-camera reality show, she decides to go for it. It does not take Shannon long to realize that competing for beauty on reality TV is an ugly business. Shannon is given a chance to live out teen fantasy—free makeover, popularity, fame—and she takes it. The book begs you to appreciate Shannon’s motives, but readers would have to live under a rock to not know what is coming. She loses her real friends, her delightfully geeky crush, and is—gasp—manipulated by reality TV. Prom Queens is a quick, amusing read, but it feels preachy. It functions under the assumption that teens do not understand how reality TV works. If readers can get past the slight feeling of condescension, however, Crompton’s assertion that the hell holes of reality TV and high school are not unrelated is spot on, and any book that makes its readers feel in on the joke is more than welcome. This title is a spot-on purchase for school and public libraries. Reviewer: Allison Hunter Hill; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Shannon Depola knows she is at the bottom of her high school's social hierarchy-a fact that is confirmed with a class survey that places her as one of the top three girls voted least likely to be prom queen. So starts the reality-show train wreck that is The Prom Queen Wannabees. Shannon and two other outcasts are selected to star in a hidden-camera reality show sponsored by a popular fashion and cosmetics company that promises social royalty and "One! Million! Dollars!" to the girl who climbs the social ladder to become Westfield High's prom queen. Shannon and her costars quickly learn that even that hefty prize is not worth selling the ugliness promoted by the beauty business and losing best friends and a chance at true love. Is it too late for the made-over Shannon to set aside everything she learned at Prom Queen Camp and recover her true identity and friendships? Like any successful reality show, The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High is a guilty pleasure. Such is Crompton's take on high school, commercialism, and America's obsession with reality television. The novel's themes are reminiscent of Libba Bray's Beauty Queens (Scholastic, 2011), and though the plot seems a little forced at times, and an all-out brawl at the end is over-the-top, the book makes for an entertaining read. Strong language makes this title appropriate for older teens. Although not an essential purchase, the book will circulate and be popular with chick-lit fans.—Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Even the twists are standard in this outsider-gets-revenge tale. Shannon is an outcast thanks to the teasing of her school's queen bee, Grace. When a finger cot--a tool for her secret quilting hobby that looks like a miniature condom--falls out of her pocket during gym class, Shannon gets nicknamed the Elf Ucker. She withdraws into her own head and only talks to her best friend, Marnie. So when she gets the chance to participate in a reality TV show called From Wannabes to Prom Queens, she jumps at the chance to improve her social standing--even if it means not telling Marnie about the show and losing a chance at romance with goofy science nerd Rick. Of course, Shannon finds out popularity isn't all it's cracked up to be. Predictably, the show's production team manufactures drama with such maneuvers as having Grace and her cronies compete for the prom-queen crown, too. Unsurprisingly, everyone learns a valuable lesson, although not without the girls having a knock-down, drag-out fight first. Crompton's second novel is competent. Characters are serviceable, and the plot moves along well enough. In the end, it's like most reality TV: not high art and not all that memorable. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

We are closing in on the last day of junior year, and I'm physically in trigonometry but mentally sunning myself on our deck. Mr. Mortimer would be happy to know at least my daydreaming is somewhat mathematical.

Let x equal my SPF number. If the sun is positioned overhead at an 80° angle, and the temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, what is the ideal value of x to achieve maximum tanning without risking melanoma as I bask in my tankini?

My calculations are interrupted when an anonymous underclassman knocks on the door and hands Mr. Mortimer a yellow slip. Without a pause in his monologue on inverse trigonometric functions, Mr. M walks over and hands me the "Report to Guidance Office Immediately" pass.

I quickly pack my books and give my best-slash-only friend, Marnie, a shrug. I realize it's pathetic to feel special over being summoned to the guidance office, but I feel like a kite, cut free after straining against my string all day.

Soaring toward the door, I try to float smoothly past Grace Douglas's desk, but of course she can't just let me pass in peace. She hums a few bars of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," just loud enough for me to hear. I hang my head in shame, wishing I could disappear. You'd think Grace could at least give the mocking Christmas Carol a rest on days when the temperature rises above seventy. But her cruelty is like the number ?. Constant and irrational.

Hugging my books, I watch the hallway tiles as I shuffle my thick black boots past endless classrooms. Students-slash-inmates sit in submissive rows, their bored heads swiveling toward me as I slump by. Classroom by classroom, they all turn back to their droning wardens once they see it's just me. A few kids from Grace's clan actually point and laugh as if I'm their walking punch line. Which, of course, I am.

I'm sure Grace gets a whole different reaction when she walks by. I imagine entire classes standing up and clapping as she stops in each doorway to pose and shake her glossy hair. The only people who ever wave to me are Marnie and "the dweebs," aka James and Rick.

Rick's study hall is coming up on my right, and I slow down for my shining opportunity to act like I'm popular. I peer through his open doorway, a smile heading for my lips.

When I see Rick, my smile drips into my throat and turns bitter. I swallow it.

There he is, sitting right in the absolute center of the classroom, with-get this-his socks hanging on his ears. That's right, I'm talking one puffy white sock on each ear as he casually writes in his notebook. Two girls in the back row are pointing and laughing, but only Rick Shuebert could get away with acting so perpetually bizarre without getting in trouble. Teachers love the guy, and this one is sitting at his desk as if he can't even see the obvious footwear dangling from the sides of Rick's head.

I stand in shock and disgust until Rick must sense my twitching eye daggers and finally looks up. As usual, he seems happy to see me. I clench my teeth and silently hiss, "What the hell are you doing?"

As if his behavior isn't bad enough, Rick is actually the one who helped initiate the incident that turned me into a punch line. No, I'm not getting into that right now, but you can trust me when I say it was awful. In fact, I'd be totally justified in hating Rick's guts forever. But my best friend, Marnie, has been secretly in love with his best friend, James, since grade school, and I just so happen to be an excellent best friend.

I tolerate Rick for Marnie's sake but socks-on-ears is a new low. I shake my head disapprovingly, and he shakes his back at me, his goofy sock ears flopping back and forth. I suppress the urge to laugh and ignore his happy wave as I stomp out of the doorframe and on toward the guidance office.

Rick is constantly coming up with new ways to be antisocial. Marnie thinks he has an "I'll reject you before you get the chance to reject me" complex, but I think he's just the most clueless smart person I know. He's not even all that awful to look at. I mean, he has nice hair anyway-brown and wavy. His nose is a bit off-center but he could potentially be a semihottie under different circumstances. For instance, if he took his damn socks off his ears.

The guidance office is in a separate building, so I have to go out the cafeteria doors and down a short walkway to get to it. When the warm outdoor air hits my face, it reminds me what a crime it is to be stuck in school on such a beautiful day. It's much too warm for my black combat boots, but I like the way they make me feel protected. My I-don't-give-a-shit-kickers.

I squint up at a fluffy, white cloud trying to get my attention. It seems to be gesturing with its billowy arms. Sailing ahead, it dares me to follow it to the cornfield where the smokers meet. But then, skipping school isn't really my style. Besides, I'm not even close to cool enough to just show up in the cornfield without an invitation or a nicotine addiction.

With a sigh, I drag open the door to the guidance office. After my brief fling with glorious sunshine, it takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim waiting room. The guidance secretary gives me her patented consoling smile as I wait for her to finish her phone conversation. Which, from the sound of it, is a personal call.

I look around at the cheap wood-paneled walls covered in posters of mountain climbers with "ambition" and kittens "hanging in there." This place is so depressing. No wonder our guidance staff has such a high turnover rate.

When the secretary hangs up, I slide my yellow slip across her desk.

"Oh yes, Shannon Depola," she says brightly. "You're the last to arrive. Number three."

"So, this is some sort of group thing?"

"Oh, they wouldn't tell me what they're doing with you. But judging by the pair running this thing, it's something ritzy. Go ahead, straight down the hall, last office in the back. The ladies went searching for a real cup of coffee but should be back in a minute."

As I shuffle past, she leans over and whispers, "And maybe you can give me a hint once you know what's happening." She grins, showing long teeth bursting out of her gums. "They've been awfully secretive."

I nod noncommittally. Incurable gossip-what a darling quality to have in a guidance secretary.

I move down the dark hallway, passing the rainbow-postered offices of the counselors who haven't given up on us yet.

I never knew the guidance department even had a back room. It smells of fresh paint, and I blink as my pupils readjust to the ultra-white walls and million-watt fluorescent bulbs crowded along the ceiling.

"Told you," says a gruff voice on my right. I look over to see Kelly Marco glaring at me through layers of eyebrow rings and eyeliner.

"I suppose you're right," a soft voice answers from my left. I snap my head toward it and see Amy "The Whale" Waller sitting in an orange plastic chair with the attached desk pressing into her ample stomach. Amy drops her head, and her mousy hair drips forward.

"What the...?" I try to figure out why the three of us are being grouped together. Kelly may be flunking out of something or other, but Amy has passing grades and I'm in advanced classes. Amy may have some sort of depression-thing happening, and Kelly has her pharmaceutical issues, but I'm pretty average in the category of teenage angst. I mean, aside from being a social pariah and all...

And BAM-it hits me.

The prank. At least, I'd assumed it was a prank. It totally had to be a prank. During homeroom last week, we were handed out a questionnaire. Everyone murmured and laughed and assumed it was some sort of test to see if teachers even read all the crap they pass out to students.

The survey had only two questions. The first one asked us to write down the three girls "most likely to be elected Prom Queen next year." Which, okay, was not the most ridiculous question ever posed to a group of high school students. Premature and idiotic maybe, but not completely ridiculous. We do have our three solid front-runners already in place. It was the second question that had everyone murmuring. It asked us to list the three "least likely to be voted Prom Queen, ever."

For me, it was the "ever" that really screamed prank. As if unworthiness of becoming Prom Queen is a permanent condition.

It had to be a prank.

But now, here we are a week later, the three of us collected in one room. The obvious choices for the bottom three-the recluse, the druggie, and me. Amy is busy studying her desk belt, so I turn to Kelly. "We're not the...?" I can't even say it out loud.

Her face jingles with piercings as she snarls. "Well, we're certainly not the damn Prom Queens."

No, no, no! I say in my head. "No, no, no!" I say out loud as I slide into the desk beside Amy. If anyone hears about the survey results, I'll be humiliated all over again. I don't think I can take any more. "This can't be happening!"

"Relax, kiddo," says Kelly. "You're upsetting the whale." I look over and see that Amy is rocking her entire desk back and forth. "Sheesh," Kelly says, "you two thought you were maybe gonna be Prom Queen?" She starts laughing. Or more accurately, she starts cackling-slash-coughing thanks to her pack-a-day habit.

Kelly is a burnout druggie who doesn't socialize with the other recreational drug-users at school. They seem like a rather inclusive group, but Kelly keeps to herself. She has a ton of piercings all over her face, which gives the impression her head is perpetually wrapped in barbed wire. It also helps to emphasize her "keep out" attitude.

With a groan, I look over at Amy. As usual, her hair hangs askew as if she's had some tawdry run-in with the hair gel. She's biting on her lower lip, a constant habit that creates pink impressions of her teeth below her mouth. Amy isn't the fattest girl in our class, but she's the one who's the most weighed down by her size so she gets singled out for abuse.

And here I am, the school's resident social exile, sitting between them where I belong. We're the bottom three. I close my eyes and moan. "Maybe the guidance counselors are staging a popularity intervention." Leaning over my desk, I tuck in my stupid black boots and pull my brown hair forward. My breath seems amplified inside the little personal hair-corral I've created. I feel my enormous ears poking out and try to smooth my limp hair over them.

It may surprise you to know that my stringy brown hair and largish ears are not the main reason I'm socially null and void. I was actually doing just fine for myself, before the Elf Ucker Incident.

Unless you go to Westfield High, I'm sure you're wondering, "What the hell is an Elf Ucker Incident?" Well, let me tell you, it is something terrible. And now my mind can't stop replaying it like the Twenty Most Shocking Reality Show Moments my sister was watching in the living room last night.

I might as well tell you, since nobody who knows me will ever forget the story anyway. I'm talking, I could become the first female pope who builds a homeless shelter on the moon, and folks around here will still remember me more for the Elf Ucker Incident.

It happened last year during gym class. We were playing co-ed dodgeball, and the wooden floors had just been redone, so the game was extra squeaky. The smell of polyurethane was strong, which was handy since the hormone fairy had been a little heavy-handed in adding the stink to everyone's sweat. I was one of the final four players still in the game.

I'm not all that athletic, but over the years I've developed this dodgeball strategy where I fall back, unnoticed, for the entire game. Once nearly everyone's out, I grab a ball, charge forward, and usually get taken out pretty fast. But every now and then, I get lucky-one of the really good players is distracted with some other really good player, and I manage to nail them at close range. Then everyone cheers for me like I'm some sort of rock star. It gives the impression I'm a much better player than I actually am.

So anyway, there I was, having the best dodgeball game of my life, completely oblivious to my impending doom. I waited patiently then leapt from the shadows and bumped off Luke Hershman, the most gorgeous of our notably attractive football players and an accomplished ball hog. As everyone was still reacting to my surprise attack on Luke, I dove to the floor like some action-adventure chick, avoiding a firebomb from my left.

The damned thing must've fallen out of my pocket when I stood back up, and of course I was too busy grinning like an idiot at my cheering fans to see it. I didn't even know I'd dropped it until Rick Shuebert (yes, that Rick-Mr. Socks-on-ears) pointed to the spot on the floor where I'd just gotten up and practically shouted, "What the heck is that?"

I looked over and my heart dove into my sneakers because I remembered sticking it in my pocket that morning, and there it was for everyone to see. A finger cot. Now, you may be asking: 1) Why was I carrying a finger cot in my pocket? and 2) What the hell is a finger cot, anyway? Well, 1) it's something that's used for a very embarrassing hobby that I'm not ready to tell you about, and 2) it's a rubber thing that looks, well, exactly like a tiny condom.

Quick as a wink, Luke snatched it from the floor and rolled it onto his pinky finger exactly the way we'd all learned to put condoms on bananas in health class.

He waggled his "protected" finger in the air for everyone to see. It felt like gym class had suddenly shifted into slow motion with laughing mouths gaping open from the sidelines. And it was just my horrible luck that Grace Douglas happened to be in that gym class. Besides reigning Westfield Royalty, Grace also happens to be Luke's girlfriend.

I suddenly wished I hadn't thrown him out after all. Luke walked over to the sidelines and continued waving his pinky in the air as he slid his arm casually over Grace's shoulder. Giving me a wicked smile, Grace announced the line that has reverberated in my head like a nightmare ever since.

"What the heck is that for, Depola?" she asked. "Safe sex with elves?"

The entire gym froze for a beat before erupting with the thundering sound of everyone's laughter. I felt my face go bright red and suddenly I had to pee real bad. I looked around for help, but the gym teacher, Ms. Gumto, seemed hesitant to interrupt-probably since Luke's demonstration was promoting STD protection after all.

I knew laughing along would've been my best damage-control reaction, but I just couldn't force myself to do it. I stood motionless as my humiliation rose exponentially by the minute.

The freshly taped lines on the wooden floor started to run and blur, and I grasped the truth that no matter what, crying in the middle of tenth grade gym class was not an option.

So I turned and fled-my flailing run emitting a flurry of embarrassing loud squeaks.

But there's really no outrunning an incident like that. Luke walked around school for the rest of the day with the damned dirty finger cot on his finger, and people couldn't resist repeating Grace's clever comment over and over. By the time school let out everyone was in on the joke and I'd been forever christened the Elf Ucker.

The whole thing stayed in everyone's minds, not just because it was wonderfully humiliating, but because it was a shining moment for Grace Douglas, a girl who I assure you does not lack shining moments. She's so epically popular that, in spite of everything she's done to me, even I wrote her in as number one on my Prom Queen Survey. Obviously some sick impulse to get a perfect score on my anonymous pop quiz.

I think I maybe could've lived the whole Elf Ucker thing down if I was the type of girl to just get over it and pretend nothing happened. But for days afterward, I was so aware of people laughing at me that I couldn't make eye contact with anyone. And then, just when I started to think things might go back to normal, the first elf showed up on my desk in homeroom.

When I walked through the door, the creepy-looking thing was leering at me with his long green legs bent at odd angles. I actually screamed when I saw it. Some quick wit called out, "What's the matter, Depola? Your elf hookup coming back to haunt you?" So then that story was the highlight of everyone's conversations. It must've been a pretty slow week among the popular clan.

After that, it became a solid running joke for everyone to sneak elves into my locker and backpack. The creepier-looking the better, and occasionally with added phallic appendages. Ick. The holidays were a freaking nightmare.

Grace and one of her lackeys named Deena approached me by my locker one December morning and politely serenaded me with a Christmas Carol that had been rewritten called "We Wish You a Tiny Pecker." They wiggled their pinkies at me the whole time they sang it and ended with "We wish you a tiny pecker, on an elf who's not queer." Despite the song's obvious lack of creativity and hint of homophobia, it inspired widespread humming of the chorus wherever I went. Grace even managed to get it on the morning announcements.

I still remember the way my big ears perked up when I heard, "This next message is for Shannon Depola." I couldn't believe it when the school's a cappella group started humming a harmony of the tune over the loudspeakers.

After the holiday break, I came back feeling hopeful that the teasing was behind me, only to be greeted by a floppy elf flung at my head as soon as I walked through the school doors.

It was when the mocking surprise gifts started to include garden gnomes with drawn-on permanent marker penises that the brutal fantasies started.

They began with a rather generic image of my hand slapping Grace Douglas across the face. Next it graduated to me pulling her shirt over her head and shoving her down the school's stairwell. Eventually, in my mind, I was pretty much beating the shit out of Grace Douglas every day.

Of course, I continued to submit to her in real life, practically bowing in reverence as she strode down the hallway. Hunky boyfriend, Luke, on her arm and an entourage of worshipers at her back. Grace Douglas was as untouchable as I became. Except her untouchable was in the holy sense and mine was more like what happens when you've got an extremely contagious disease.

My friends started fleeing in acts of social status preservation that I really couldn't blame them for. Marnie was the only one who never distanced herself. I started trying to look as plain as possible, since wearing something as simple as lipstick or a cute pair of shoes would instigate a fresh round of teasing. "Ooo, Depola," I'd hear, "all dressed up for one of your special little friends?" It's really no wonder I was driven to wearing aggressive footwear.

The final straw was when some clown hacked my profile, changed my status to "in a relationship," and photoshopped a creepy-looking elf with his tongue in my ear. It was really more than I could handle, and after I regained control of my account, I deleted the whole thing. I stopped existing online and escaped real life by disappearing into my daydreams as often as possible. It seemed like the more I got teased, the more disconnected and weird I acted. It became a vicious cycle.

Now here I am, officially elected as a hopeless loser who couldn't be voted Prom Queen ever. I guess I deserve it. Between my scuffed-up I-don't-give-a-shit-kickers and my frequent breaks from reality, it seems like I was sort of campaigning for a bottom three position without even knowing it. In retrospect, I maybe should've joined the Future Homemakers of America alliance with Marns when she begged me to. Or maybe at least the left-hander's club.

I can't imagine why the guidance office is getting involved in my loser status, but I'm starting to think I should've run off through the cornfield chasing that fluffy little cloud after all.

In fact, right now, any escape from reality will do.

Meet the Author

When she was 17, LAURIE BOYLE CROMPTON painted her first car hot pink using 40 cans of spray paint. This turned her into an overnight icon in Butler, PA. She now lives near NYC in Queens, but maintains a secret identity in New Paltz, NY where she and her family can often be found tromping through the forest. Visit

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Real Prom Queens of Westfield High 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is really good, but it has a ton of cuss words! Get a sample and just by that, you'll see! Thanks!