The new girl in town grapples with unwanted attention after being forced into a high school prom-date auction.
After her mother left and her father uprooted the family to a new town, white teen Ava Vanguard hoped to fly under the radar in her senior year. But her status as the daughter of the new varsity football coach puts her squarely in the gaze of Mark Palmer, the white star quarterback. It’s not long before she’s embroiled in an unfamiliar tradition: Prom Bowl. Officially a fundraiser for prom, Prom Bowl selects a group of girls for a series of competitions, and boys bid on them to become their dates. The highest bid becomes prom queen. Ava’s been marked as the wild card, and it’s clear she’s different—she isn’t thin, doesn’t care about clothes, and doesn’t party. She begins to sabotage herself; she wants out immediately. But as she and Mark grow closer, her feelings about Prom Bowl shift. She excels. Maybe she’s the girl who can show the underdogs what’s possible. But Prom Bowl has more insidious surprises than she expected, and she and Mark face the consequences. Ava’s voice outshines Mark’s in their alternating, first-person chapters—she’s a fully formed, likable character, whereas Mark remains predictable. But both their attraction and growth feel forced, leaving little to tug readers along.
A thinly veiled riff on the teen film She’s All That, lacking charm. (Fiction. 14-18)