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How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee
Young adult

How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom

by S.J. Goslee

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Quick take

When a prom-posal goes horribly awry, an awkward teen finds himself fake-dating an unlikely classmate.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Happy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LightRead

    Light read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LOL



Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and (definitely) still a virgin. He's never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It's not like Penn Valley is brimming with prospects. And when his big sister stages an elaborate “prom-posal” so Nolan can ask out his not-so-secret crush, Nolan freezes. He's saved from further embarrassment by bad boy Bern, who, for his own reasons, offers to fake-date Nolan.

Nolan thinks it's the perfect way to get Daphne off his back and spend the rest of the year drawing narwhals, tending to plants, and avoiding whatever died under his bed a few weeks ago. What he doesn't think about is Bern's ex-girlfriend, who seriously wants to kill him.

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Check out a preview of How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom.
How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom


Spring renewal comes with many things—the annual Sheffield Family Lawn Game Tournament, my part-time job at the Talbot plant nursery, an inexplicable increase in dick drawings on the outside of my locker.

What I don’t expect it to bring, this year, on the day of the spring equinox, is my name being called in homeroom for the Student Advisor Program.

The Student Advisor Program is for juniors freaking out about college apps and the bored seniors who volunteer to help them. When my sister was one of those juniors last year, she formed a codependent bond in SAP with the co-captain of the golf team that basically weirded everybody out.

But me: I’m completely chill about college apps. I’m going to follow my sister to State, obviously, and if I can’t get in there I’ll probably just stay home and work for Mr. Talbot for the rest of my life. I’ve got a green thumb; it’ll be fine.

Haimes says, “Nolan Grant Sheffield,” and I straighten up in my seat, watch the other three kids in the class that apparently actually did sign up for SAP scramble out the door.

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Why I love it

High school junior Nolan Grant Sheffield is gay, out, and unashamed of who he is. When we first meet him, dating—never mind going to prom—is the last thing on his mind. His meddling sister Daphne, however, has bigger plans for his love life. You may be able to guess what happens next, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Nolan ends up in a sham relationship with a boy who once bullied him! Chaos ensues. By now we’re all familiar with the “fake-dating” trope—but until now we haven’t seen it done quite like this.

But back to Nolan and his fake dating situation. Like most characters in this predicament, he has no clue what he’s doing most of the time and this leads to a series of events made ever more ridiculous by his errors in judgment throughout. Call it cliché if you wish. I call it downright Shakespearean. There’s a reason this plot device—the comedy of errors; the farce—has withstood the test of time. It kinda never gets old. Meanwhile, the modern voice and humor S.J. Goslee brings to the story keeps this tale-as-old-as-time fresh and new.

Read this book if you can’t get enough faux love that becomes (or perhaps always was) true love. Or read it because you’re looking for a diverse romance that goes way beyond just a gay protagonist. Basically, if you’re looking for a novel to fill the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before-shaped hole in your heart, this is the book for you.

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Member ratings (509)

  • Raegan S.

    Fort Gibson, OK

    Absolutely hilarious. The characters were all written so well, and I had so much fun watching them be dumb teenagers. Fake dating will never not feel like fanfic, but this was still well executed! ❤️

  • Kilie M.

    Mona, UT

    It was a cute book. The main character Nolan is an idiot but I love him. Nolan starts fake dating Bern. The ending was so sweet. I related a lot to Nolan. It’s a short read. Finished it in a few hours

  • Denise C.

    Lolo, MT

    I am a sucker for any fake dating tropes, so I loved this book. It was a short, cute read that made me wonder who the main character would end up with. I also loved all the side characters.

  • Jasper C.

    Edwards, MO

    This book is exactly what it sets out to be: A gay teen romcom. I knew how every part was going to go, and that was a-okay because it was so well-written. 10/10 for being true to itself!

  • Rebeca O.

    Lakeland , FL

    This was pretty damn adorable! The first half was a bit boring and the writing style is basic. But, I enjoyed the characters and the different relationships. The ending was cute!

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