In more ways than one, an anthology is like an assorted box of candies; you never know what's coming next; 21 Proms is no exception to that tendency! Penned by 21 witty and contemporary authors (most of whom chiefly write YA and chick-lit books), each (and every) short story of this anthology articulates the dream, or nightmare of every American youth--Prom Night!
The unique quality of this collection is its diversity. Only a couple of these stories end in the quintessentially happy way with the hero and heroine going to the prom together and dancing and kissing. Breaking all stereotypes, none of the protagonists of these 21 stories is a Prom Queen or King, not even in Elizabeth Craft's "You are a Prom Queen, Dance Dance Dance".
The couples, or rather, triangles in most of these stories are borderline bizarre. Libba Bray's "Primate the Prom" explores issues of bestiality and racism. The story by one of the editors of this collection, David Levithan's "Lost Sometimes," shows how being a homosexual teen is doubly confusing, as does Brunt Hartinger's one-act play, The Question.
Ball gowns and corsages, men in tuxedos, dancing the night away... the top three reasons I am obsessed with proms. While there is an abundance of gowns and flowers and tuxes in this collection, dances and the promise of happily ever after are rather scarce. A few stories shone brighter than other ones, but sadly, most were a tad too experimental, and hence, disappointing. 2 stars out of 5, and a bonus one for the cover! Finding its characters in their prom attires in the cover after having read the story first, for me, however, has been a real treat.
T S Marin is a lecturer of English at Primeasia University and Sub Editor of the Star Literature and Star Reviews pages. She is still not over the fact that her high school did not have any prom!