Skip to content

Young Adult Book Review – Your Plantation Prom is Not Okay

 

YOUR PLANTATION PROM IS NOT OKAY

Written by Kelly McWilliams

(Little, Brown BYR; $18.99, Ages 12 and up)

 

 

Your Plantation Prom is Not Okay cover

Starred ReviewBulletin of the Center for Children’s Books  

 

High school senior Harriet Douglass has grown up on the Westwood Plantation in Louisiana.  Her parents spent years converting the former plantation into a museum that tells the stories of generations of enslaved people who lived and suffered there. Although Harriet’s mother succumbed to cancer, Harriet and her father continue to maintain the plantation and provide educational programs to help visitors gain insight into America’s painful history with slavery and race.

Nearby Belle Grove Plantation has just been purchased by soap opera actress Claudia Hartwell and her social media influencer daughter, Layla. Claudia’s plans are to turn Belle Grove into a romantic venue for weddings and other events, completely disregarding the horrific history behind the plantations. Harriet is angry and disgusted by the attempt to romanticize history at the expense of those who toiled and suffered on them.

Layla and Harriet first meet at school when Layla defends Harriet from a white teacher’s microaggressions. Harriet is surprised by Layla’s awareness of the subtle discrimination and cautiously begins a tentative friendship. When Layla comes up with a plan to publicly pressure Claudia into canceling a celebrity wedding at Belle Grove, Harriet agrees to assist. The plan, using social media, is successful in shaming Claudia, but fails to stop the wedding. And lands both girls in trouble. Later, when the school decides to hold its prom at Belle Grove, Harriet feels betrayed when Layla, desperate for her mother’s attention, refuses to help. Harriet turns to her old friend, now boyfriend, Dawn, who uses his film and social media skills to help Harriet strip away plantation romanticism and tell the real story of what happened in the lives of the enslaved.

Harriet, tough but vulnerable, struggles with grief and mental health issues stemming from her traumatic final meeting with her mother. Her PTSD includes rage and subsequent blackouts. Fearful she could hurt someone, she has turned away from many of her friends. Through counseling, Harriet learns to control her rage and begins to realize that her old friends can be valuable allies in her campaign to end romanticizing plantation life through the stories of the enslaved.

In Your Plantation Prom is Not Okay, Kelly McWilliams has written a powerful and wide-ranging book that not only explores the complex issues stemming from systemic racism but sympathetically and realistically treats grief and mental health.

  • Reviewed by Dornel Cerro

Share this:

Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Ready For Romance?

Summer’s a Perfect Time for Romance –

A Message from Catherine Linka

Parents often despair to me that their teens only read romance or trashy novels once school is out. I like to remind them that when they themselves are lying by the pool, they probably aren’t reading Tolstoy, and that their kids read plenty of examples of great literature during the school year. Our goal is to get them to read during the summer instead of spending hours on Facebook or YouTube. 

Keeping that in mind, I suggest books that are romantic, but that offer more insight into the human heart and soul. My top romantic picks are below:
 
ROMANCE FOR TEENS WITHOUT VAMPIRES OR WEREWOLVES
 
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS ($17.99, Penguin Teen)
by John Green
Literary rockstar John Green writes intelligent stories with interesting, offbeat characters. Hazel meets Augustus at the Cancer Kids Support Group, and they seize the day. For the girl who’s not interested in Bella and Edward. 12+
 
WHY WE BROKE UP ($19.99, Little, Brown and Company)
by Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket, writes the story of a girl who writes the story of her failed romance as she returns all the souvenirs of their time together. Intelligent, interesting characters, great dialogue. 12+
 
THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY($17.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
by Jenny Han
Wildly popular series of three books. Summer romance for Sarah Dessen fans. 12+
 
MY LIFE NEXT DOOR
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Also for Sarah Dessen fans. For years Samantha Reed watches the Garrett family next door who her politician mother loathes. Then one summer Samantha falls in love with Jase Garrett which means first she has to lie to her mom, and then lie to him. 13+
 
THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME ($17.99, Dial/Penguin)
by Jess Rothenberg
Adorable romantic fantasy about a 15 year old girl, Brie whose heart literally breaks when Jacob her boyfriend calls it quits. She plots her revenge from heaven. 12+
Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times author events and other exciting special events.
Share this:
Back To Top