Say No the Bro
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: May 2nd, 2017
by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Ava’s plan for surviving senior year at her new school is simple: fly under the radar until graduation. No boys. No attachments. No drama. But all that goes out the window when she gets drafted into the Prom Bowl—a long-standing tradition where senior girls compete in challenges and are auctioned off as prom dates to the highest bidder.
Ava joins forces with star quarterback Mark Palmer to try and get herself out of the competition, but their best laid schemes lead to self-sabotage more than anything else. And to make matters worse, they both begin to realize that the Prom Bowl isn’t all fun and games. When one event spirals dangerously out of control, Ava and Mark must decide whether shutting down the Prom Bowl once and for all is worth the price of sacrificing their futures.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review-
Doesn’t this book have the best title ever? If a title alone had the capacity to sell a book to anyone, it was be the title to this book. I was certainly sold before I even saw the cover or read the blurb for the book because who can resist a book titled Say No to the Bro?
Does the book actually live up to its amazing title? I don’t really know how to answer that question and should probably not start all my paragraphs in this review with a question because I am told that is bad writing. Say No to the Bro was not at all what I expected and I don’t know if I mean that in a good or bad way. It is somewhere in the middle to be honest and I think that is in part because I wasn’t not blown away by this book or felt a deep emotional attachment to it. But before you’re like ‘nah, maybe i’ll pass on this one’, give this book a shot and let me say some of the things I did like about it.
After spending some time thinking about it, I think I do like Kat Helgeson’s re-imagination of the ‘new girl in town who has a connection with the popular jock’ trope. It’s done in a way that breathes new life into this very common trope and just gives it a fun, feel good vibe instead of a ‘really? another one of those?’ vibes.
When Ava’s family moves from Carbondale to Patterson right before her senior year, Ava decides that she is going to spend her senior year flying under the radar. She is tired of dealing with people and just wants to have some time and space to herself. Obviously this is not how things turn out for Ava (otherwise, this book would have no plot and we don’t want that do we?) Instead she is somehow dragged into this weird prom bowl thing that happens at Patterson high that is meant to raise funds for the prom. Instead of being able to fly under the radar, Ava has to spend a good chunk of her senior year navigating the weird social hierarchy of her school and learning all the secrets that are kept in the name of sports and athletes.
Kat Helgeson crafts this intricate social environment that is essentially a train wreck you cannot pull your eyes away from but it serves as such an important vessel to make commentary about a lot of things. Most importantly, it serves as a way for Ava to unpack the hurt she hasn’t dealt with from when her mom left and for her to realize her little family unit is FARRRRR from perfect.
The passage of time in Say No to the Bro is kind of odd because somehow an entire year passes but there aren’t that many indicators of that happening. I also tend to like it when the passage of time is well defined in a book I am reading so that could just be a me and not the book thing because maybe I am just a picky bastard but who knows.
While Say No to the Bro may seem like it’s just gonna be fluff (which there is nothing wrong with), it is actually so much more complicated than that. Kat Helgeson does a great job crafting this sort of coming of age tale where tough decisions need to be made but there is always a dash of fun and romance to be had!