“That guy is so full of himself. Did you hear the way he trashed Vancouver? I’ve been to Montreal. It’s not that great.”
“Seriously, Geeda?” Lottie says. “Montreal is pretty awesome.”
“Okay, I’ll admit Montreal is an amazing city,” Geeda relents. “But it’s freezing there in the winter.”
Luis is still frowning. “I wish you had waited until you got to know Andre better before you asked him to join the committee. He strikes me as the type of person who will make it all about him.”
“You’ve know the guy for less than an hour,” I say.
“I think you have something in your eyes, Charlie,” Lottie says.
“What?” I wipe my eyes with my fingers.
“Stars!” Lottie says. “You have a crush on that guy.”
“I’m just being friendly,” I say.
“If that’s friendly, I would hate to see what love looks like,” Lotte says.
A member of the Vancouver outNproud drop in queer community centre, Charlie struggles, like many his age, with the emotional roller coaster of love, friendship, insecurity, and belonging. Unlike other romantic stories for teens, Prom Kings features non-binary romance within the context of contemporary Canadian life. In addition to the usual struggles of attending high school, looking “right”, holding down a job, and coming from a single-parent household, Charlie is conscious of the broader social struggles of being gay. He finds security attending outNproud, but his confidence is tested when the centre announces they are going to host a prom and he finds himself attracted to Andre, a newcomer who seems more into Charlie’s nemesis, Chad. Befriending Luis, a fellow outNproud member, to be his “wingman”, Charlie and Luis forge a plan to win Andre’s heart. Things go amiss, however, and Charlie discovers that his single-minded pursuit of Andre is not without consequences and that he risks jeopardizing his growing friendship with Luis.
Tony Correia offers LGBTQ teen readers access to a more sexually diverse range of characters that shifts from dominant heteronormative teen romance fiction. While this book fills an important need in bringing in a greater LGBTQ representation, the plot and writing are unsophisticated. The situational plot moves along quickly and rather predictably, and only Charlie’s character shows any notable development. While the book lacks a certain depth and richness of language and characterization, the frequent references to Vancouver geography and landmarks are entertaining for local audiences, and the voices of these characters carry an authenticity that is critically important in honouring the interests of readers. This work is of particular appeal to those who enjoy a quick, light romance that is focused on non-binary characters. Prom Kings serves an important need for specific audiences and, while it is not likely to endure (as the publishing of LGBTQ-centred materials hopefully improves) it is worthy of purchase for teen collections.
Dr. Christina Neigel is an Associate Professor for the University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia.