I am so incredibly excited and humbled to announce that I now have a literary agent. Mandy Hubbard, of Emerald City Literary Agency, has taken me on as a client! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be working with such a talented agent (and writer!).
Title aside, Katcher’s multifaceted novel is about more than a school dance, delving into discrimination, dementia, and the perils of online fame. Deacon Locke, who has never gone on a date or been kissed, waits too long to ask out potential prom dates, so he opts to take Jean, his grandmother and primary parental figure, since she missed her own prom decades ago. Deacon’s classmates find his decision adorable, and video clips of him and Jean dancing at prom go viral. Meanwhile, Deacon summons the courage to ask out Soraya, a Muslim dance instructor he meets while taking lessons with Jean, and soon has his first girlfriend. Amid the level of small-time celebrity Deacon achieves because of the video (including agreeing to participate in a Dancing with the Stars–type show after graduation), Katcher (The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak) explores the pitfalls of Internet notoriety and the vicious, sometimes racist commentary that can come with it—with Soraya caught in the crossfire. Although the story looks directly at some of humanity’s uglier tendencies, Deacon’s entertaining commentary keeps the overall tone thoughtful, upbeat and hopeful. Ages 13–up.
DEACON LOCKE WENT TO PROM Author: Brian Katcher
Deacon’s decision to take his grandmother to his senior prom results in unexpected fame.Since his father abandoned him at 16, Deacon’s caretaker grandmother, Jean, has become his best friend. So when Deacon finds the required elaborate “promposals” too intimidating and realizes Jean missed her own prom, he invites her instead. Jean’s insistence on dance lessons is a ploy to set Deacon up with the instructor, Soraya, a young woman with “a medium complexion” whom the white boy describes as “standing out from the typical pasty-faced Arkansan.” Soraya’s a senior at the local Islamic school, which she attends to honor her Lebanese heritage. Though romance slowly develops, Deacon still takes spunky Jean to the dance. Soon a video of their dancing goes viral. Deacon gets mostly positive social media feedback, but the attention also strains his relationship with Soraya, who becomes the target of some racially charged online bullying. The complications come thick and fast, but they wrap up extraordinarily quickly in the last 25 pages, as Deacon finds his way back to the people who matter most to him. Deacon’s present-tense narration reveals a kind and likable protagonist. A sweet though sometimes obvious lesson on staying true to oneself. (Fiction. 12-16)
Gr 8 Up–When Deacon Locke can’t find a date for the senior prom, he decides to invite his grandmother Jean, who missed her own prom because her date (Deacon’s grandfather) was serving in the Vietnam War. Deacon has never been able to depend on his fly-by-night father, and his mother isn’t in the picture: Jean, with whom he has been living for the past two years, has been the sole rock in his life. When a video of the unlikely couple dancing at the prom goes viral, awkward, loner Deacon experiences his first taste of popularity. As he looks toward the future, he grapples with his newfound celebrity; pursues a relationship with his dance instructor, Soraya; and realizes that Jean may be dealing with dementia. While Deacon occasionally comes off as insensitive when it comes to race and gender (“The non-politically-correct part of my mind wonders if [Soraya] has an exotic accent”), he grows and develops as he learns of the bigotry that Soraya, who is Muslim, has confronted. The plot is somewhat predictable in places (Soraya and Deacon’s relationship is temporarily derailed when another suitor asks Soraya out right before Deacon can), and characterizations are a little thin. However, Deacon’s wryly self-deprecating voice will resonate with readers, and Katcher’s commentary on Internet fame rings true. Teens will enjoy this light but touching tale of maturation. VERDICT Those seeking coming-of-age stories with a bit of romance will be pleased with this quick, heartfelt read.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal