Monday, December 3, 2012

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom
Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
ISBN: 978-0802723451
Walker & Co, 2012

Plot Summary: Tessa and Luke have been joined at the hip for as long as anyone in their small Indiana town can remember. They are now seniors and everyone is waiting for Luke to finally make his move and ask Tessa to prom. The last thing he suspected in reaction to his dramatic prom proposal is Tessa telling him she’s a lesbian. Hurt, confused, and feeling betrayed, he lets Tessa’s secret get out and soon a misquote from him about Tessa and her newly admitted sexually sends the town into an uproar, especially when Tessa announces her intentions of going to the prom with her girlfriend. Will Tesss be able to be who she is? Will Luke be able to support his best friend and most of all will Tessa Masterson make it to prom?

Critical Evaluation: This is one of the best GLBT titles currently out there! It is also very timely since it is loosely based off the real life event of Mississippi high school senior Constance McMillen and her struggle to be allowed to attend prom with her girlfriend. If you believe in equal rights the portrayal of small town hate in this story will make you so angry at how ignorant some Americans can be. Tessa is a very believable character—she’s always felt different and is confused at how she is supposed to be herself. Luke is believable in his feelings of being rejected and also how to handle the “betrayal” of Tessa not telling him sooner and his attempts to make it better. The ending has a bit of suspension of belief (it doesn’t hurt the story though) but the end is a box of Kleenex-worthy.  

Reader's Annotation: After humiliating himself in front of the whole town to ask his life-long best friend, Tessa, to go with him to prom, Luke accidentally, in anger, bashes Tessa for why she turned him down—she’s gay. What neither one of them is prepared for is the media news storm that follows this revelation as the very conservative town makes their feelings known about Tessa and her determination to take her girlfriend to prom.

Author Information: 

Growing up, Emily Franklin wanted to be a singing, tap-dancing doctor who writes books. Having learned early on that she has little to no dancing ability, she left the tap world behind, studied at Oxford University, and received an undergraduate degree concentrating in writing and neuroscience from Sarah Lawrence College.  After extensive travel, some “character-building” relationships, and a stint as a chef, Emily went back to school at Dartmouth where she earned her Master’s Degree in writing and media studies. Franklin is the author of two adult novels, The Girls' Almanac and Liner Notes and more than a dozen books for young adults, including the critically acclaimed seven book fiction series for teens, The Principles of Love. She has collaborated with Brendan Halpin on three books, Jenna and Jonah’s Fauxmance, The Half-Life of Planets, and Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom. Franklin lives outside of Boston with her husband and their four young children (Franklin, 2012).

Brendan Halpin grew up in Cincinnati, went to college in Philadelphia, and also lived in Taipei and Edinburgh along the way. He has lived in Boston since 1991. He became a professional writer in 2000, writing about his late wife Kirsten's breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Kirsten died in 2003, leaving him to raise their daughter Rowen. He got remarried in 2005. He and Emily Franklin have written three books together: Jenna and Jonah’s Fauxmance, The Half-Life of Planets, and Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom (Brendan, n.d.).

Genre: Realistic 

Curriculum Ties: Tie it into the real-life story of Constance McMillen and individual rights (do schools have the right to ban students from prom because they want to take a date of the same sex, etc.?)

Booktalking Ideas: Read the prom proposal. Read the section where Tessa’s family’s business is boycotted.  

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues: People who don’t believe in homosexually will not like “impressionable” teens reading about a gay girl.

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion: One of the best GLBT YA novels of 2012.   


Franklin, E. (2012). About. Retrieved from

Brendan Halpin. (n.d.). Goodreads author profile. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for reading our novel! We'd be happy to speak to teens on answer questions. The paperback comes out in Spring 2013.

    Emily Franklin