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A Really Nice Prom Mess

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Cameron doesn't want to go to prom. Not with his boyfriend, Shane, and definitely not with his fake date, Virginia. Sure, it's senior prom, it's the end of high school, and Virginia's drop-dead gorgeous. But none of that matters to Cam, who's never liked any high school dance. Ever.

Then an unexpected kiss changes everything, and Cam needs to make a quick exit. After teaming up with a waiter who's been dealing drugs in the bathroom, Cam leaves the prom. But his night is far from...

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Cameron doesn't want to go to prom. Not with his boyfriend, Shane, and definitely not with his fake date, Virginia. Sure, it's senior prom, it's the end of high school, and Virginia's drop-dead gorgeous. But none of that matters to Cam, who's never liked any high school dance. Ever.

Then an unexpected kiss changes everything, and Cam needs to make a quick exit. After teaming up with a waiter who's been dealing drugs in the bathroom, Cam leaves the prom. But his night is far from over. From a high-speed car chase, to a stop at the after-prom party, to a bar with a wild dance contest...Cam's night finally ends in the most unlikely of romances.

Gay high school senior Cameron Hayes endures a disastrous prom night when forced to take a girl as his date, and after fleeing the dance in disguise, he finds himself involved in a surprising on-stage performance, a high-speed police chase, and unexpected revelations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In his first novel for young adults, filmmaker Sloan creates a bold, sassy comedy of errors starring Cameron Hayes, a gay high-school senior in Washington, D.C., who makes the mistake of trying to play "straight" man on the night of his high-school prom. Plans for the evening are simple in principle: Cameron and his boyfriend, Shane, will take two "fake" dates to the dance and meet up afterwards. However, little goes as planned. Cameron's date turns out to be a hot-tempered lush, who is none too pleased to discover her escort's sexual preference, and Cameron makes a pass at Shane's date, which brings the males to blows. Both guys get in trouble with the vice principal and Cameron narrowly escapes punishment by making a daring getaway with a drug dealer he meets in the restroom. Any prom disasters readers may have experienced will pale in comparison to the fiascoes recorded here. The remainder of Cameron's evening is a thrilling but unsettling roller-coaster ride as he speeds from one location to another, linking up with some unlikely companions, including a deaf male stripper, a burly football player and a gay cop who eventually rescues Cameron from his nightmare. In a mere 12 hours, Cameron's world has turned completely upside-down but somewhere along the way he gains some insight into his doomed relationship with Shane and into himself. The author's impeccable sense of comedic timing and cast of offbeat characters will keep laughs coming and make larger-than-life events easy to swallow. Ages 12-up.

From Publisher's Weekly

Copyright © 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

AGERANGE: Ages 15 to 18.

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2005: Gay activists have looked forward to a YA novel where the protagonist’s homosexuality is one aspect of character and not the problem. This book is not it. Seventeen-year-old Cameron is gay, in love, and deeply inside the closet. His secret boyfriend is a jock even more protective of his manly image. In a plan fated for disaster, Cameron and his lover decide to go to the senior prom together, but each as half of a boy-girl twosome. Problems arise when Cameron picks up his drunken date. She, having guessed Cameron’s sexuality, is loudly disappointed that she’s not going to “get laid” on prom night because her date is a fag. Thus, the night begins with Cameron trying to keep her and her announcements at bay while wanting to steal time alone with his boyfriend. The situation goes from bad to worse and before long Cameron is fighting with his boyfriend, accused of drug trafficking, chased by the police, dancing in a strip club, making out with his boyfriend’s girlfriend, and generally having “a series of unfortunate events,” which are often laugh-out-loud funny. By the end of the evening, Cameron has a better sense of who he is and what he wants in a lover. The writing is fast paced and funny, but for the non-gay there may be just a little bit too much information about what boys do together. At the same time, drunkenness, pot smoking, car theft, and sex are offered as givens of adolescent life, making this a book for older adolescents. Reviewer: Myrna Marler
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Sloan chronicles the outrageous prom night and post-prom morning for a gay high school senior. Cameron reluctantly agrees to go on a double date to the dance with Virginia McKinley, a red-headed bombshell beauty. Trouble is he would rather be going with his football star boyfriend, Shane Wilson. Shane and Jane are the other half of the date. It's Shane's idea so that he can keep his other relationship a secret. By the time Cameron picks up Virginia, she has figured out he is gay and tries to drown out her dissatisfaction with alcohol. They proceed to Shane's pre-prom party where she throws up into the fish tank. This is just the beginning of the night that continues a downward spiral. Cameron gets caught kissing Shane's date, Shane socks him in the stomach, and Cam runs off with a Russian waiter/drug dealer to a gay bar. Along the way he coincidentally meets other gay characters including a hearing-impaired dancer. Each meeting and situation seems a bit more absurd, but if readers suspend belief, they may enjoy the comedy that results. The characters are developed and the writing is solid despite the improbabilities. By the morning after prom, Cameron has learned more about himself, but this is one small step toward his maturation. The author's background as an independent filmmaker is evident in his many references to films and theater. The mature subject matter and language make the book best suited for public libraries.-Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416953890
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/19/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,261,752
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 0.72 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Sloan is a writer, director, and producer working in film/TV for more than twenty years. He received his masters in film at NYU in 1993, and since then his work has screened at more than 100 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Berlin, and Toronto. He has written and directed two features—the romantic comedy I Think I Do and the indie drama WTC View—and he recently cowrote and produced August. His short films Pool Days and Bumping Heads appeared in the Boys Life shorts anthologies, which he also executive produced. On TV, Brian coproduced and wrote for Discovery’s Cookin’ In Brooklyn, and he has also directed and produced pilots for MTV, Logo, and NBC. Currently, he is working on an adaptation of his second novel, Tale of Two Summers, into a twelve-part series called Best Summer Ever that will premiere online next year. For more details, go to or like the show on

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First Chapter

Chapter One

Virginia McKinley is a wild beauty.

That's exactly what I was thinking as she emerged from her bedroom and stood behind an elegant white railing on the second-story landing of her swank Georgetown mini manse. Virginia had untamed, naturally beautiful features, unsullied by hair, skin, or facial care products; a large square face, like a vintage movie star, accented by the sharp jawline of a supermodel and eyes that were the most dangerous looking orbs since Bette Davis. Up top was an explosion of unruly hair that was not merely a fiery shade of orange but, from a distance, looked like it truly could have been ablaze. And finally, draped over her tall, robust, and generously voluptuous form was an Oscar-worthy prom dress in red velvet (see Catherine Zeta-Jones) with a neckline that risked an NC-17. I mean, whoa! Bathed in the smoky rays of an early summer sunset streaming through the foyer, her porcelain skin glowing with the radiance of an old-school goddess, Virginia McKinley truly took my breath away. Honest. Which is not too bad, considering I'm totally gay.

All right, well, I guess not that totally if I was taking Virginia to the senior prom. But you know what? Attending a conservative, all-boys school in Washington, D.C., it's not like there's a lot of other options for a guy like me when it comes to the prom. Sure, I've read stories online about radical formals in left-leaning hamlets such as Seattle or San Francisco where these bold guys take each other to the main event. But Washington is seriously conservative, and not just because President Bush is in charge. I mean, let's be real here....It's not like there were dudecouples macking to Mariah on the dance floor during the Clinton years. Please!

So that said, you must be wondering what the hell I was doing going on a fake date to the prom anyway. This is the new millennium and all, and you'd think people would be over that sorta fifties Rock Hudson, playing-it-straight crap. Well, you know what? I am totally with you on that one. This whole prom thing was not my idea. Honest. I mean, I have nothing against the prom per se as an institutional rite of passage. I'm not some Starbucks-smashing anarchist who wants to firebomb the Marriott ballroom or something in protest of the hypocrisy of male-female slow dancing in a world where love is a whole lot more complicated (and generally, like, faster) than that.

Actually, I have to admit that in theory I'm fond of the prom. In fact, I'm a bit of a sucker for a good tacky high school prom movie. You know the genre: Down to You, Never Been Kissed, Pretty in Pink, etc. But let's be real here; those movies are about as honest as your average member of Congress. It's a fantasy, people! The reality of the prom is not so pretty in pink or turquoise or lavender....It's just pretty terrible. C'mon, you've heard the stories. (Hell, you've probably lived some of them.) Anyway, here's a few that pop to mind: the poor band geek who has to ask about ten girls before some tragic junior on the Potomac Forensics Team says yes; the insecure rich chick who buys her Stella McCartney gown at Nordstrom's, only to have her intended say it looks "kinda weird"; longtime steadies who plan their prom night like it's their friggin' wedding, only to have one of them drink too much and puke all over the back of the limo, causing a melodramatic breakup and ruining any chance of their getting hitched for real. Okay -- do you want me to go on? I mean, seriously, do you really think anything approaching romance happens at the goddamn prom?!

Sorry -- I'm getting a little hysterical. You see, I'm still a bit raw over the events that transpired on the evening of June 6, a.k.a. prom night. Though a couple weeks have passed, I'm still trying to piece it all together. It was absolutely insane. What -- you think I'm being all exaggerated and über-dramatic? Oh, I wish it were the case.

If you think those previous anecdotes about the prom are scary, what happened to me is downright frightening. If you take those tales and multiply all of them by 10 and add about five other tangential incidents, that might begin to approach the manner in which my wonderful night at the senior prom devolved from the highest romance imaginable to the most utter chaos in just under five hours flat. And that's not even getting into the part where the police got involved. Or the strippers. But I'm really getting ahead of myself.

So let's get back to Virginia, where I left her, standing at the top of the stairs. Where, in major retrospect, I probably should have left her. You see, the first hint of trouble was when Virginia tried to come down those stairs. To put it nicely, she was a little wobbly. I know, I know -- Virginia's a statuesque girl wearing vertiginous heels, and is relatively new to this adult balancing act that began with her debut at the Mayflower Hotel last November. I should have cut her some slack. Let the record show, I did. Until, that is, she tripped over her own left foot and went down.

"Virginia," I said, rushing up to her, sprawled out over five steps. "Are you okay?"

"Shit," she said, reaching for one of her Jimmy Choo's that had escaped the grip of her big, floppy foot. "What do you think, asshole?"

What did I think? Asshole? Let's see...uh, the first thing I thought was that her severe tone of voice and mildly abusive language were not really the nicest way to address her prom date, even if he was a big homo.

"Oh my god -- Virginia!"

That was Virginia's mother. On hearing her daughter's collapse, Mrs. McKinley came racing in from the kitchen, a highball in one hand and a copy of Town & Country in the other. She was an equally tall woman with similarly reddish hair, except that hers, whipped into a curly meringue and radiating a color found only on Mars, was clearly a wig.

"What happened?"

Huffily, Virginia pushed herself up on her elbows.

"What does it look like, Mother?"

Given Mrs. McKinley's mortified look on Virginia's use of the same venomous tone of voice with her, I offered an answer.

"She, uh, she tripped."

"I told you those heels were too high for you, Virginia."

As she went up to help her daughter, bad morphed into worse when Mrs. McKinley tripped on the stairs as well. The magazine went flying but miraculously the drink barely sloshed as the lady of the house went down, losing one of her flats in the process. It was a pretty remarkable feat, this saving of the booze. I thought to myself, Hmmm, maybe Virginia's mother is a woman who has had some experience falling down with a cocktail.

"Jesus Christ, Mother!" said Virginia, standing up now and slipping her Choo back on while clinging tightly to the ornately carved handrail. "You're gonna spill all over my Armani. Gimme that."

Virginia reached for the tumbler, snatching it out of her mother's hand. Flustered, her mother tried to pretend that this hadn't happened, attempting to finesse the snatch with a question.

"Would you like a sip, darling?"

Ignoring this moot question, Virginia turned toward me with a wicked glance. I had seen this look before. I remembered it distinctly from the night I first met Virginia at an illegal parents-out-of-town party on Q Street, where she challenged some members of the football team to five consecutive shots of Jagermeister, one for all the games they'd lost so far that year. (With a grand total of only three hundred male students, my school is severely sports challenged.) Fixing me with this flashback look, she took a sip of her mother's drink, and she sipped and sipped and sipped until the drink was all gone. Then after her mother righted herself, Virginia handed her the empty glass, the marooned ice clinking sadly. Mrs. McKinley exchanged a brief, bitter look with her daughter and then turned her attention to me.

"Well, don't you look nice....It's Cameron, right?"

"Yes, ma'am," I said, self-consciously pulling at the sleeves of my rental. It was the James Bond-style tux from Formal Friends in Wheaton. Being retro and all, it was a fashionable bargain at $99.90, consisting of standard-issue black pants with a thin, sporty strip of satin down each leg, a white dinner jacket with padded shoulders that was slim cut in the waist, and a .350 Magnum concealed in the pocket. (Okay -- kidding!) Anyway, I thought Virginia might get a kick out of the spy theme.

"It's the James Bond tux."

"What?" said Virginia, interrupting a nanosecond of civility with a boozy bawl.

"That's, uh, that's what it's called. Or what the rental place called it. You know, like the old Bond wears, old what's his name...oh, Roger Moore."

Not particularly attuned or interested in what I was saying, Virginia approached me with a few unsure steps, and the problem with the state of Virginia was instantly clear. She was stinking drunk and it was not from her mother's highball. This was a drunk that had been in the works for a while, hours probably. I mean, her eyes were looking in opposite directions. Honest.

"A rental, huh?" she said casually but brutally. Then, reaching with her perfectly shellacked rose fingernails, she started molesting my lapels. It was as if she'd assumed the role of a Bond girl, you know, whose aim was the seduce me first only so that she could kill me later. Sensing her daughter's homicidal intent, Virginia's mother tried desperately to steer things back to the social niceties.

"So...Virginia tells me you're going to a dinner party first?"

"Yeah -- at my friend Shane's house. But first we've gotta stop by my house. My folks want some pictures."

"Oh -- that's nice," she said, beaming. "I meant to take some of you two here but the camera is...I don't know....I can't keep track of where anything in this house is."

Then, done with leering at me and my lapels, Virginia barked out her next desire.

"I'm hungry," said Virginia, abruptly swinging the spotlight back on her. "I want to eat now!"

Noticing the panic in my eyes, Mrs. McKinley nodded secretly to me as if we were both dealing with an unruly child. Which I guess we were, though most unruly children don't down shots in the middle of the afternoon.

"You'll be at the dinner party soon enough, darling," said her mom. "But you'll want to get some pictures first, to remember your big night."

"You mean you will," she said, shooting her mother a more overt, menacing glance. Ouch. "I'm really starving now. Can't we just skip the formalities and get to the grub?"

Ohmigod. It's true. She actually said grub.

What is wrong with this girl, I wondered? My mind was now reeling in reverse, desperately searching for some horrible thing I had done in the recent past to deserve this sort of behavior not only from a date, but from my prom date. My senior prom. The first and last one I would ever be attending. I mean, I knew that this was not intended to be some grand night of romance between Virginia and me. But still, I didn't expect my date to be sloshed and spouting words like grub. It's like someone had replaced my Catherine Zeta-Jones with Anna Nicole Smith. A ravenous Anna. On a bad day.

"My parents are really expecting us," I said, trying to motion Virginia toward the door. "My dad is a bit of a shutterbug when it comes to these sort of things."

"Oh, isn't that sweet," said Mrs. McKinley as she leaned toward her daughter, attempting to will her to smile with the force of her own grin. It didn't work.

"I hate pictures."

Okay -- to give Virginia some credit here, I probably would not have been too psyched to have a photographic record of myself if I was this trashed during daylight hours.

"Now remember, Virginia," her mom said, as we headed to the door. "Make sure you get home by two A.M. I don't want to be up all night, worrying about -- "

Interrupting her mother, Virginia turned around and stated her intentions.

"I'll be home when I feel like it!"

Then just as quickly, she swerved back toward me, and grabbing me brusquely by the arm, yanked me out the door.

"Okay, Hayes, let's hit the road."

And as the weight of Virginia practically dragged me across the transom, I turned around to say good-bye to Mrs. McKinley. But it was too late. We were already halfway down the front walk, as Virginia had quite a stride with her long legs and determined pace. Despite this I managed to offer her mother a half-wave as she stood in the doorway, her brow furrowed with concern as she mouthed Two A.M.

I was like, Wishful thinking, lady. Wishful thinking.

Copyright © 2005 by Brian Sloan

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    It was pretty beastly.

    I love russian drug dealers who like to makeout with minors. :x

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 8, 2009


    Brain Sloan's novel A Really Nice Prom Mess is a very entertaining. He really does a great job keeping the reader hooked in the book. All the things that happen make the reader not want to put it down.
    This book is about a teenage boy who is gay. He has only told one person about this. He is scared to tell anyone else because he doesn't want people to judge him. Also he doesn't want his sexuality to get back to his parents.
    Cameron is taking Virginia to prom, only this is not a typical prom date. Cameron has a huge secret that he is trying to keep hidden from her. It is a secret that he is keeping from everyone. Everyone that is, except his boyfriend Shane. Everything is going great for Cameron until he picks Virginia up for the prom. After that it just seems like everything is starting to fall apart.
    I loved this book. I enjoyed it because it is written in a way that gets the reader emotionally connected to the characters in the book. The novel makes it seem as if you are there living every moment along with Cameron, and you feel his pain. Also, it has a lot of funny parts. It is a very good read, and the reader gets through it fast because the reader doesn't want to put it down. It has about every aspect of a teenager's life, from a drunken teenage girl, to buying weed in the bathroom, to Cameron's parents thinking that he got abducted.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2006

    Good Book

    The book was really funny, but it was complicated. For some parts, I felt like it was never going to end. I did like the book though because it was different from all other prom-involved books. It was from a different prospective. Since Cam is a gay guy, sometimes he talks like a girl, and I find that hysterical, like when he says 'Ohmigod' or checks out other girls' dresses instead of their bodies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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