High school junior Heart LaCoeur had planned to go to prom with a group of friends—as the No Drama Prom-a Crew—but suddenly gets two other invitations. Heart’s brother promises her to his recently dumped best friend, and her friend Ryan confesses that he’s gay and asks her to be his platonic date. Though readers may not think either option beats Heart’s original plan, she waffles and finally flips a coin. The remainder of the book alternates between the two paths, Sliding Doors–style. In one thread, Heart spends the night with stereotypically drunk football players and their prom-royalty dates; in the other, she has an unromantic evening with Ryan, which is mostly spent with the No Drama group anyway. Duplicate disasters occur in both storylines, which eventually dovetail for a telegraphed happy ending. While Heart’s escapades are largely (and enjoyably) silly, debut author Czukas occasionally hints at deeper issues, but abandons them. Readers dreaming of their own future proms can enjoy the hijinks, but they aren’t quite enough to sustain the story. Ages 13–up. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jane Austen will swoon.
A hilarious romp. Heart is the kind of narrator you’ll love rooting for: self-deprecating, brutally honest, and charmingly quirky. A Molly Ringwald for the next generation. The only question you won’t need to ask again later is whether or not to read this book. The answer is yes.
Czukas’ debut is pure fun; at times, readers will feel as if in a John Hughes movieand that’s a good thing.
Breezy, witty, and charming with some serious swoon. You will heart Heart in this sprightly comedy of errors.
One teen's prom night splits in two directions. Seventeen-year-old Heart LaCoeur (who's already planning to change her "porn star" name upon turning 18) has plans to attend the dance with friends as part of "the No Drama Prom-a Crew." Unfortunately, fate (in which she does not believe) inserts itself in the form of two last-minute dates: her French-class conversation partner, Ryan, and her brother's football teammate, Troy, recently dumped by his girlfriend. With the flip of a Chuck E. Cheese token, the first-person narrative splits in two. In the "Heads" version of reality, she is Troy's date and the odd girl out among the jocks and cheerleaders. In the "Tails" version, her date is gay Ryan, who has come out only to her. The night plays out in various hijinks before the split narratives collide in a somewhat predictable, but still satisfying, romantic conclusion. In her debut, Czukas gives readers a glimpse of a genuine comedic voice and surprisingly well-developed characters, but much of the book's promise is lost, victim of its own contrivance, in a choose-your-own-prom adventure without actual choices. Some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments are scattered throughout the unevenly paced narrative. This may work for readers seeking a cute and frothy prom-night romp, but anyone looking for something more substantial will be disappointed. Great characters in search of a less gimmicky narrative. (Fiction. 13-18)
Gr 9 Up—"You can't get pregnant if you don't even have a boyfriend, right?" Heart LaCoeur has spent her life trying to not end up like her mother, who had two children by age 20 and then panicked and abandoned the family. So when prom, the most romantic night of the year, rolls around, Heart and her friends decide to attend as one big group, nicknamed the "No Drama Prom-a Club." The plan falls apart when Heart is asked to the prom by two different guys-Ryan, a theater-geek friend, and Troy, her brother's jock best friend. The novel plays out both scenarios in "Heads" and "Tails" sections, allowing readers to see the outcome of each of Heart's potential dates. Throughout both story lines, Heart relies on one of her guy friends, Chase, to help her through the chaos of the night. Eventually, Heart learns that Chase has been harboring a secret crush on her. The back-and-forth story lines of the narrator's two different dates becomes confusing to follow at times, and the plot contains many YA fiction clichés (a friend coming out as gay, underage drinking, dating drama, and an absentee parent). Even so, Heart is a more-than-likable main character, and her budding romance with Chase will be relatable and win over teens, while her resolute stance on "taking it slow," even once her no-dating policy dissolves, will be appreciated by adults.—Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT