PROM & PREJUDICE
Every girl at Longbourn Academy dreams about going to prom. The couture dresses, the Pemberley boys, the social prestige–all of it on the mind of every junior and senior at the school. Everyone except Lizzie Bennet, a gifted pianist but poor scholarship student, whose lack of wealth makes her a social pariah among the rich and entitled.
For the sake of her best friend, roommate, and one of the two people at school who doesn't treat her as a doormat, Lizzie agrees to go to a reception so Jane can mingle with Charles Bingley, a Pemberley student who has just returned from a semester abroad. At the party, she has an unfortunate run-in with William Darcy, Charles's best friend, and is reminded yet again of her unworthy scholarship status.
Unfortunately for Lizzie, she is forced to spend more time with Will since their respective best friends are romantically involved, and she often finds herself irritated by his very presence despite his attempts to get to know her better. However, when Wick, an old acquaintance of Will's makes advances on both Lizzie and Jane's younger sister Lydia, a shocking truth about Will's family history with Wick is revealed and Lizzie realizes she may be as guilty of prejudice as those around her.
Prom & Prejudice is a sweet story that modernizes and reintroduces us to characters with whom we are already familiar, placing them in an updated world but keeping timeless elements at the forefront as Ms. Eulberg re-examines basic human nature in social situations in a way that keeps us rapidly flipping the pages even when we know exactly what's going to happen. This is a book that shouldn't be approached with too much seriousness–those who are looking for the rich complexity of Austen's original tale will certainly find many a flaw in this retelling–but for any reader looking for a story full of classic miscommunications and misinterpretations that ultimately lead to the reversal of a deep-rooted prejudice, you will not be disappointed. The notion that wealth is somehow an adequate and accurate way of determining a person's worth is applicable in any time period, and Ms. Eulberg does a nice job of transferring this social bias to an elite New York City boarding school where it is as believable and as equally frustrating as it was in Austen's time.
Lizzie is an enjoyable heroine, taking her verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her peers for her scholarship student status in stride, keeping her focus on her music and her career goals. She is a loyal friend to Jane, often subjecting herself to public ridicule at social functions so Jane won't have to attend alone in the hope of meeting up with Charles. We can't help but erect our own walls to guard against the animosity often slung in her direction, the strength of our solidarity with her increasing with every nasty comment and rude gesture. Though she treats Will with the same hostility she resents from others, the growth and maturity we know is coming still never fails to make us smile as she humbles herself and eventually rectifies her preconceptions of his character.
Will, after living up spectacularly well to the snobbery and arrogance rumored to infect all Pemberley students, makes a solid and respectable effort to win Lizzie's affections, enduring her wrath while quietly prodding her impressive armor for any weak spot that might allow him access to the girl underneath it all. Their interactions are beautifully tense, the line between anger and attraction often blurring to a degree that causes our temperature to rise several notches, and in our heated state we can do nothing but shake our heads as Lizzie remains oblivious to Will's interest, content instead to exist as she has previously–wrapped thickly in her own proud, but lonely, blanket. We wait with a heightened sense of anticipation for events to play out as we know they will, yet our knowledge of the outcome makes the reading of Lizzie and Will's romantic dance no less enjoyable.
Prom & Prejudice is a quick and easy read, one not meant to mimic the beauty and depth of Austen's work, but instead meant simply to entertain and, in that respect, is successful in doing so. Readers of all ages looking for an adorable romance will enjoy this tale, reveling in the characters' ability to complicate matters that ought to be simple. We come to realize our hearts often know far more than our mouths or minds do, and we are able to sit back and experience the frustration and hurt, but also the luminous joy that accompanies the journey our minds take in order to catch up with what our hearts have already figured out.