Though I never had one myself, I think every teen deserves one adventurous wild night out, Ferris Bueller or Sleepover-style (for the Lindsey Lohan generation). For the uninitiated, the wild night out is pure unadulterated no parents, throw caution to the wind and live like there’s no tomorrow adventure.
The theme is as old as storytelling, but I’m glad to see it rear its head in YA via The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald and Glitz, by Philana Marie Boles. The suspension of belief it takes to go along with the characters as they stay out way past curfew (Glitz) or walk the line of the law (Anti-Prom), is what makes these books fun. Truth is, most of us fear breaking curfew too much to dip a toe, much less our entire selves into a wild night out. So safer to go along on the ride with Ann Michele and the motley crew of Bliss Merino, Jolene Nelson and Meg Rose Zuckerman.
There’s a little Ann Michele in us all. The question is, are we bold enough to let our Glitz shine through?
Bored with her straight-laced existence with her grandmother, Ann Michele befriends Raquel, an aspiring singer/rapper with a checkered past. The two share music in common and despite Ann Michele’s grandmother’s concerns – of which she has many, Ann Michele refuses to give up on the friendship. Desperate to live a little, Ann Michele accepts Raq’s invitation to hit up a concert of their favorite rapper. Not only is Glitz, Ann Michele’s quietly sassy alter-ego, born but she sets off on a road trip with Raq, their hip hop idol and his entourage. The trip opens her eyes to what true friendship is about and life behind hip hop’s iced out posturing.
The old school vs. nu school battle that Ann Michele’s family situation provokes is at the heart of the story. Boles could have made the Glitz persona an instantly out of control diva and 180 degrees different from Ann Michele herself. Instead, Glitz is merely Ann Michele out of her shell, a gradual personality-lift born of frustration. All her life she’s been a good student and remained out of trouble, but that isn’t enough for her grandmother. So becoming Glitz is a chin-thrusting “take that” to her grandmother and all parents/guardians who forget they were once young experimenters.
Glitz walks the line between wild adventure and slightly realistic. At first, readers may question the road trip. I did. I mean, in her place would I go road tripping with a bunch of rappers knowing I’d have NO life once I got back home to face the music (no pun intended)?
But given Ann Michele’s circumstances, I just might. Readers will empathize with her thirst for something, anything that allows her to spread her wings. And Boles keeps it real because for every moment “Glitz” throws caution to the wind, Ann Michele spends another ten moments concerned about the consequences.
First thing that came to mind as I read The Anti-Prom – this is Ferris Bueller meets The Breakfast Club. Any teen readers who don’t know these movies need to get a quick tutorial. My God, they’re pop cult faves.
When Bliss Merino finds her boyfriend hooking up with her best friend in the limo AT prom, she sets out to get immediate revenge. Okay, “immediate,” because it takes the entire night and half way through she has second thoughts…so more like eventual, sort-of revenge.
In truth, the revenge itself is beside the point. The Anti-Prom is about the journey on revenge road.
No one can get revenge on their own, so Bliss recruits the help of outcast Jolene and quiet girl, Meg. This is where the Breakfast Club comes in. The girls are from a variety of high school’s walks of life, so as expected they clash over their social differences only to come together when it’s most crucial.
Frankly, I never really got how Bliss’s revenge was truly revenge. Decking the jerk boyfriend and dumping the BFF could have resulted in equally as much drama but I digress.
For the fun of it, The Anti-Prom is an easy and enjoyable read. Nothing wrong with a night living on the edge and realizing that we’re all more alike than different.
Since this is a duel, my nod goes to Glitz as the winner. Where The Anti-Prom is centered around an age-old event that a vast majority of teens have experienced or will, Glitz offers a peek into a world that most of us will never touch. But heck, why not give yourself two wild nights and read ‘em both.