We Were Promised Spotlights
The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads to You in this queer young adult novel. Taylor Garland's good looks have earned her the admiration of everyone in her small town. She's homecoming queen, the life of every party, and she's on every boy's most-wanted list.People think Taylor is living the dream, and assume she'll stay in town and have kids with the homecoming king--maybe even be a dental hygienist if she's super ambitious. But Taylor is actually desperate to leave home, and she hates the smell of dentists' offices. Also? She's completely in love with her best friend, Susan.Senior year is almost over, and everything seems perfect. Now Taylor just has to figure out how to throw it all away. Lindsay Sproul's debut is full of compelling introspection and painfully honest commentary on what it's like to be harnessed to a destiny you never wanted.

We Were Promised Spotlights Details

TitleWe Were Promised Spotlights
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 24th, 2020
PublisherPutnam Children's
Rating
GenreLGBT, Contemporary, Young Adult, GLBT, Queer

We Were Promised Spotlights Review

  • Iris
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely gay trash. Its so cool to see how far YA has come since I was reading regularly. There was good discussions of sexuality, and then there was drinking and sex and STIs and cliques and everything you want in a highschool drama. Just wait till the prom scene and watch our girl go full disaster gay. Anyways, it was quick and fun, and honestly kinda felt like another character in Euphoria _(ツ)_/ Absolutely gay trash. It’s so cool to see how far YA has come since I was reading regularly. There was good discussions of sexuality, and then there was drinking and sex and STIs and cliques and everything you want in a highschool drama. Just wait till the prom scene and watch our girl go full disaster gay. Anyways, it was quick and fun, and honestly kinda felt like another character in Euphoria ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  • Mira Ptacin
    January 1, 1970
    I love every single thing Lindsay Sproul writes. In my opinion, she's the reincarnation of a modern-day Carson McCullers and I am thrilled that she will have more books coming out after this one. I love every sentence, and how strong and beautiful and rare her work is. Hooray for this book. I'm a superfan.
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  • J M T
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED THIS BOOK. Too many LGBTQ books come from the point of view from an outcast, trying to fit into a heteronormative world. Taylor Garland is anything but an outcast. Shes popular, shes pretty, and its an open secret that her father is probably a famous movie star. On the surface Taylor is the hot bitch in high school. Shes THAT girl. However, the book is from her POV. And that is refreshing. Shes neurotic, deals with internalized homophobia, and Is completely uncomfortable in her own body. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Too many LGBTQ books come from the point of view from an outcast, trying to fit into a heteronormative world. Taylor Garland is anything but an outcast. She’s popular, she’s pretty, and it’s an open secret that her father is probably a famous movie star. On the surface Taylor is the hot bitch in high school. She’s THAT girl. However, the book is from her POV. And that is refreshing. She’s neurotic, deals with internalized homophobia, and Is completely uncomfortable in her own body. By the end of the novel, I felt I understood Taylor and found her to be funny—but more importantly—searingly real as a 17 year old trying to negotiate an unknown future in the year 2000. ***I read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I'd had this book when I was a teen navigating all the cliques at school at the same time I was coming to terms with being queer. My high school career occurred around the same time (1999/2000), so We Were Promised Spotlights was particularly relatable for me. Taylor is a product of her surroundings, her upbringing, her class, and for the majority of the book, she's only doing what she knows, what she's been taught. Being a mean popular girl is the only way she knows how to survive. In a I wish I'd had this book when I was a teen navigating all the cliques at school at the same time I was coming to terms with being queer. My high school career occurred around the same time (1999/2000), so We Were Promised Spotlights was particularly relatable for me. Taylor is a product of her surroundings, her upbringing, her class, and for the majority of the book, she's only doing what she knows, what she's been taught. Being a mean popular girl is the only way she knows how to survive. In a small town where homosexuality isn't exactly a sin but is still a facet of personhood to be absolutely detested, Taylor knows how to get by without getting hurt. But the problem is she’s always hurting, privately, deep down—because she’s hiding herself away, letting the outside world control her. She begins, slowly, to unravel, which in another story might be a bad thing; here, it’s the best thing that could happen to Taylor and what makes this a successful coming of age story.I'm concerned by other reviews that detest the homophobia, fat shaming, etc. in the novel; that is real life. If you can't handle it in a fictional story, how do you understand queer life for young adults in the real world? This is the reality for so many kids—twenty years ago and now. Without the homophobia and fat-shaming, this book would be a sham. I know it because I encountered it in junior high and high school directly. It was a painfully realistic read. The writing itself is really lovely, as is the character development. I cherished Taylor’s inner weirdo, her adventurous spirit, her empathy (unexpected from a mean girl, but this girl’s got layers)… She’s complicated. She isn’t just a popular bitch, and she knows that. And it’s terrifying to her. Reading something like this when I was a kid would have opened my eyes to the fact that the cool kids had their own problems—that their lives weren’t always easy either, that they had to live by a code that they may not have agreed with but felt obligated to… I could go on, but instead I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book, which I think is a good representation of the story as a whole because it revolves around female friendship and the sometimes blurry lines of those friendships for a young lesbian. It’s just after she tells her friend Susan, who has lost her father and who she is deeply in love with, “I’m so sorry. I love you.” Susan grabs her hand, squeezes, pulls it to her chest and asks Taylor, “‘Keep me warm?’”“In this moment, I felt strangely lucky. To be a girl, to be able to say these things and for them to be okay and normal to say. To tell the truth, even if it meant something completely different to me.”__Edit: I can't believe I forgot to say that this book, despite the heavy subject matter, is so funny. Laughed out loud multiple times. Taylor is hilarious.
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  • Queer Reader
    January 1, 1970
    OMG THIS BOOK!!!!! 😂😂😂Ive been looking for a narrator like Taylor for such a long time. Though I wouldnt call it a comedy by any means, this book and Taylor as a narrator both have biting humor, even in the face of difficult issues like homophobia, sexism, and the pressure put on girls and women about their bodies. Taylor is unlikable at first, but shes so weird and insecure that ultimately I loved her. For once, the popular bitch is multidimensional. This barely happens in straight romances, OMG THIS BOOK!!!!! 😂😂😂I’ve been looking for a narrator like Taylor for such a long time. Though I wouldn’t call it a comedy by any means, this book and Taylor as a narrator both have biting humor, even in the face of difficult issues like homophobia, sexism, and the pressure put on girls and women about their bodies. Taylor is unlikable at first, but she’s so weird and insecure that ultimately I loved her. For once, the “popular bitch” is multidimensional. This barely happens in straight romances, never mind in LGBTQ+ books. Her voice is the biggest strength of the novel. She is anything but flat. If you’re looking for a book that’s heavily plot-driven, this isn’t for you. If you like quiet but incredibly real character-driven narratives, read this immediately. The dialogue is hilarious and spot-on, and every character (with the exception of Scottie...) has their own arc. The ending felt both surprising and inevitable. Often, class isn’t discussed enough. This book explores an economically depressed town in such quiet but important way. Taylor, though it may not seem like it to an outsider, is up against so much... and she manages to make even herpes funny. As a queer reader, I’m so excited to have found this story!!!!!
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is refreshing in several ways, and its also honest and brave. It follows the narrator, a seemingly unlikable popular mean girl (who I ultimately found hilarious, vulnerable and sympathetic), on her coming out journey, which is unlike any other Ive seen before. Yes, its full of homophobia, fatphobia and other triggering content, but... those things exist!!! Sadly, while this novel is historical, the homophobia portrayed (both internal and external) were prominent during the late This novel is refreshing in several ways, and it’s also honest and brave. It follows the narrator, a seemingly unlikable popular mean girl (who I ultimately found hilarious, vulnerable and sympathetic), on her coming out journey, which is unlike any other I’ve seen before. Yes, it’s full of homophobia, fatphobia and other triggering content, but... those things exist!!! Sadly, while this novel is historical, the homophobia portrayed (both internal and external) were prominent during the late 90s/early 2000s, and still are. This author takes risks with her characters, and shows the pressure put on both Taylor and Corvis in a searingly real way. They present differently, and they have different problems, but both characters are beyond compelling. Another thing this novel nails is the ridiculous idea that lesbians must “look a certain way” to be gay. This, sadly, feels true sometimes. Of course it’s not, and our narrator realizes this at the end of the book. But too often, pressure is put on queer people FROM OTHER QUEER PEOPLE as well as from heteronormative society. This is a quiet, but important, theme in this book. I also love how this story quietly explores class and education. I love that our girl escapes her constrictive hometown, but still loves where she cane from.I highly recommend this book, especially to readers who like Euphoria. It doesn’t back down from unpopular ideas, and the result is a sad, poignant, real story. Love love love.
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  • alana ♡
    January 1, 1970
    Probably 2.5 stars. RTC.
  • Maddie
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an advanced copy in exchange for this review. I am in love with this book!!! The ending is feminist AF. It was not what I expected to happen, and I love seeing girls choose to save themselves rather than let a man rescue them. Taylors coming out story was unique and funny. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an awesome f/f romance. I was given an advanced copy in exchange for this review. I am in love with this book!!! The ending is feminist AF. It was not what I expected to happen, and I love seeing girls choose to save themselves rather than let a man “rescue” them. Taylor’s coming out story was unique and funny. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an awesome f/f romance.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    If youre a fan of Skins or Euphoria, this book is for you! Super realistic f/f romance... unexpected ending... beautiful writing. If you’re a fan of Skins or Euphoria, this book is for you! Super realistic f/f romance... unexpected ending... beautiful writing.
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  • c, (½ of readsrainbow)
    January 1, 1970
    On my blog. Rep: lesbian mc, lesbian & bi side charactersCWs: homophobia, fatphobia (uncontested), lesbophobic slurs, child abuse, outingSometimes writing reviews of books you hated is easy. Other times, its like pulling teeth because you absolutely do not want to relive the book in any way, shape, or form. This book falls squarely into the latter camp.Im not quite sure where to start with this book. Its about a closeted lesbian teen in a small town in America in the 90s. It doesnt On my blog. Rep: lesbian mc, lesbian & bi side charactersCWs: homophobia, fatphobia (uncontested), lesbophobic slurs, child abuse, outingSometimes writing reviews of books you hated is easy. Other times, it’s like pulling teeth because you absolutely do not want to relive the book in any way, shape, or form. This book falls squarely into the latter camp.I’m not quite sure where to start with this book. It’s about a closeted lesbian teen in a small town in America in the 90s. It doesn’t immediately feel like the 90s though – it took me a moment to get that, and I’m still not entirely certain what exactly about the setting was supposed to clue me in (until a date inevitably got mentioned). Anyway, this girl, Taylor, is one of the most popular girls in school. She is also a complete and utter bitch. Think Mean Girls when Regina George is writing in the burn book and parodying herself/Cady. It’s like that, but not a parody, and for the whole. damn. book.But it’s okay! She’s closeted! She has to protect herself from being considered a lesbian!Okay, so that’s kind of kidding. But simultaneously not kidding enough. I cannot stress just how little time I have for characters who are horrible, don’t apologise for being horrible, and then have some bullshit excuse for it. Being closeted is not an excuse for being awful. And this book completely fails to make such a judgement on that. She just continues being awful and people continue shrugging it off. And she doesn’t improve at all in the book.One clear example of this is when she outs another lesbian. What she does is trick her into trying to kiss her, have a photo taken, and then spread that photo around the school. Around her incredibly homophobic school. Like it’s nothing. And then she never apologises for it. But somehow this character becomes something like a friend to her, and also is so incredibly chill about it all. So incredibly accepting that this has happened to her. Another thing that’s just shrugged off. Taylor describes it as choosing to destroy this character’s life, but it’s okay! It’s character building!(Also, side note, but I didn’t realise I’d stored up that much more rage since finishing this book, oops.)On top of all this, there are so many slurs in this book. It’s like no character can mention a lesbian character without slotting in a slur to do it. Including the main character. And, I don’t know about you, but I find that so tiring. Like, if I’m supposed to at all like any of these people, don’t have them saying this shit. It’s that simple. As it was, I just ended up hating everyone. (Another side note, they’re all also cheating on each other, so any like I had for any of them definitely plummeted after that little revelation. Definitely lost track of who cheated on who at one point too.)So they’re all horrible, there’s a whole vibe of the main character is somehow “oppressed” because she’s pretty and popular, and then there are quotes like this: “She’s not gay,” said Corvis. “She’s fat.” “So?” “So she thinks she can’t have a boyfriend because of it.” I don’t regret reading a whole lot of books, but this would be one of them.
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  • Sigrid
    January 1, 1970
    THIS BOOK!!!!!! I am in love with it. It's an extremely complex story in the package of a "fun read," which it iS, but it's so much more than that. It's not very often that we get the perspective of the popular girl--usually, this character is a pathetic stereotype. Also, it's not often that we see books that discuss the way physical beauty can actually be damaging to a girl or a woman--how literally everyone finds attractive girls threatening. This book NAILS IT. The male characters are THIS BOOK!!!!!! I am in love with it. It's an extremely complex story in the package of a "fun read," which it iS, but it's so much more than that. It's not very often that we get the perspective of the popular girl--usually, this character is a pathetic stereotype. Also, it's not often that we see books that discuss the way physical beauty can actually be damaging to a girl or a woman--how literally everyone finds attractive girls threatening. This book NAILS IT. The male characters are threatened by the fact that they can't own Taylor, the other girls are threatened by the fact that the boys like her, and even her OWN MOTHER is threatened by her. I've never quite seen this issue explored, and it's even more important with a lesbian narrator. People will criticize this book for blatantly exploring homophobia and fat-phobia, but in my opinion, this book takes the only risk it could in order to feel real. I absolutely love Taylor's weird observations, our invitation into her complicated POV, the way in which she absolutely hates herself but then finds a way to love something about herself that isn't what others love. I also found the narrative arcs of Corvis, Susan, Heather and even Brad compelling. Also, the prom scene? So cinematic. Best scene I've read in a book all year. And the writing itself? Gorgeous. These sentences (and the dialogue) stand out when compared to other YA titles. Read this immediately.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    You can also find this review at my blog!I am so glad I came across this book. Taylor is a big disaster gay.Loved this story so much because the perspective is quite refreshing. Taylor was a truly realistic character when portraying internalized homophobia and dealing with the expectations and image she has to hold when being such a public image as she is. We get to know how nostalgic she is, how she would give anything to be anyone else but her and while she can be a bitch sometimes, we get to You can also find this review at my blog!I am so glad I came across this book. Taylor is a big disaster gay.Loved this story so much because the perspective is quite refreshing. Taylor was a truly realistic character when portraying internalized homophobia and dealing with the expectations and image she has to hold when being such a public image as she is. We get to know how nostalgic she is, how she would give anything to be anyone else but her and while she can be a bitch sometimes, we get to empathize with her. The way she grows into her identity and explores her limits throughout her senior year is incredible and really touching. Finally, that prom will stay forever in my mental list of favorite moments in books.
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  • Anna Claire
    January 1, 1970
    Lindsay Sproul is able to capture the thoughts and voice of teens in a way that is unmatched. She takes such care with her characters and her wit is top notch. I love how this book flips the expectation of the underdog. I love everything she writes, but this is at the top of the list! Gay AF.
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  • Lucsbooks
    January 1, 1970
    We dont usually get stories about the popular kids, do we? Normally its all about the underdog and the ones that are different, popular becomes a synonym with being devoid of a personality or a life except to notice how pretty they are and how difficult they make the protagonist's life. Except in this story, the popular girl is the protagonist and if we can see her being a nightmare, we also see that she is a product and slave of the societal expectations put on her.Taylor is not an easy We don’t usually get stories about the popular kids, do we? Normally it’s all about the underdog and the ones that are different, popular becomes a synonym with being devoid of a personality or a life except to notice how pretty they are and how difficult they make the protagonist's life. Except in this story, the popular girl is the protagonist and if we can see her being a nightmare, we also see that she is a product and slave of the societal expectations put on her.Taylor is not an easy character to like but you do understand where she comes from and why she is the way she is, something that the author extended to all her characters: there is a big difference between what we show others and who we really are.I also loved that Taylor knew that she was gay from the beginning and how thirsty she was for every girl around her but the best part for me was that the author focused not only on her sexual orientation but on her sexuality in general as well as in those around her. The place in which this story is set also influences the story a lot, with alcohol and drugs fulfilling the emptiness most of the characters seem to feel.The only thing that I did not like was the ending itself. After all the growth, having Taylor falling in love out of nowhere felt kind of wrong, just another pretty girl that would be a waste to be single, when throughout the entire book Taylor resents being forced to act a certain way because of her beauty. That aside I loved the beginning and the rhythm at which the story was told until then.Also, there is something about how understated that cover is.Thank you to Putnam Children's and Edelweiss+ for this DRC.
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  • delph ✨
    January 1, 1970
    Find my review on my blog: here.TW/Content warnings: homophobia, fatphobia, bullying, internalized homophobia, use of slur words, underage smoking/drinking, child abuse (violence), homophobic language, some graphic and non-graphic sex scenes.Review: (1/5)An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.First of all, I know Goodreads and the advertisement team say its a contemporary story but if it takes place in Find my review on my blog: here.TW/Content warnings: homophobia, fatphobia, bullying, internalized homophobia, use of slur words, underage smoking/drinking, child abuse (violence), homophobic language, some graphic and non-graphic sex scenes.Review: (1/5)An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.First of all, I know Goodreads and the advertisement team say it’s a contemporary story but if it takes place in 1999/2000 then for me it’s not contemporary. With that said, let’s review this book.I think I can say that I have a lot of issues with this book. So I guess I’m gonna start with the things I loved. We’re gonna do it bullet point style because why not: The title: for some reason, ‘We Were Promised Spotlights’ has a nice ring to it? I like how it sounds and I think it fits the story well. The writing: even though I didn’t like this book, I think I can say with confidence that Lindsay Sproul knows how to write. I believe it’s also the first time in the while that I ended up reading a book about teenagers that actually act and speak like teenagers, you know? Usually I can spot pretty easily adult authors who try too hard to make their characters sounds like teenagers but this time, I didn’t have that feeling. How the author wasn’t scared to talk about STD and contraception. I think it’s something that author should write more about in their book, especially if they write for teenagers.Aaaand that’s it. Like I said, I had a lot of issues with this book and if you take a look at the TW/content warnings I put up there, then maybe you can guess what’s the problem. To be honest, I don’t mind unlikable characters as long as they have something that interest me but Taylor Garland was just not lovable. I guess she was written with the idea that the reader shouldn’t like her but damn, it was hard. More than unlikable, all the internalized homophobia was too much for me.I get it. Some people experienced that but I didn’t get the point in this book, especially that she didn’t change by the end of the book. She was still the same egoistical, mean, self-centered girl. I think she still has all these homophobic thoughts by the end of the book and I think it’s too bad because as a reader, I just couldn’t root for her. Reading the book, I thought she was going to grow up, was going to see what’s the problem with saying all these problematic things, was going to accept her sexual orientation and finally start to love herself for who she is. But I didn’t get any of that. It’s like the author slapped the book in my face while saying “here’s the homophobia and fatshaming, deal with it because Taylor won’t.”And you know, it leaves a really bad tastes in the mouth because I started the book thinking it was going to be a cute f/f romance with a girl dealing with high school stuff. But nothing was cute, internalized homophobia isn’t cute.Nothing was challenged. The main character kept saying all these stuff and all her friends did the same. And what was the point? I wonder. What was the meaning behind this book? I don’t know.Maybe some of you will think that I’m exaggerating so here are some quote from the book. Please note that they’re from the uncorrected proof so they may not be in the book once it’s published. “Can you just… Can you make me look gay?” “Plus, I heard they had actual witches there who could cast spells that worked; maybe they knew one that could make me straight.” “What if they suspected I was a homo too?”So yeah. Wouldn’t recommend.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    This novel feels like a quiet rebellion-- it's 1999, and Taylor is tired of being the popular girl, expected to stay rooted to her hometown forever. As she slowly emerges into her lesbian identity and general sense of who she really is, she burns some bridges, while rebuilding others. We Were Promised Spotlights shows the middle-of-the-road struggle many teens often face as they come into themselves as people-- not completely miserable, but not necessarily happy. The fact that Taylor is so far This novel feels like a quiet rebellion-- it's 1999, and Taylor is tired of being the popular girl, expected to stay rooted to her hometown forever. As she slowly emerges into her lesbian identity and general sense of who she really is, she burns some bridges, while rebuilding others. We Were Promised Spotlights shows the middle-of-the-road struggle many teens often face as they come into themselves as people-- not completely miserable, but not necessarily happy. The fact that Taylor is so far from perfect is a big part of what makes this book stand out. Her emotional growth throughout her senior year is glorious to witness; readers will leave feeling nostalgic and with clarity.
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  • Joel Rayberg
    January 1, 1970
    A fantastic coming off age story that's set in the South Shore of Boston.
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    You should pre-order this book. It comes out at the end of March!I dont often YA literature but this novel was a quick, easy and compelling read. It follows the final year of closeted, popular lesbian high school girl called Taylor. She is a regularly self-hating, conflicted, and a bully. She uses others for her own gain even as she complains that they use her for her popularity.She feels trapped. Like her life is pre-planned and she cant change and initially she isnt even sure if she wants to. You should pre-order this book. It comes out at the end of March!I don’t often YA literature but this novel was a quick, easy and compelling read. It follows the final year of closeted, popular lesbian high school girl called Taylor. She is a regularly self-hating, conflicted, and a bully. She uses others for her own gain even as she complains that they use her for her popularity.She feels trapped. Like her life is pre-planned and she can’t change and initially she isn’t even sure if she wants to. As the novel progresses her relationship with her best friend that she is love with (Susan), her boyfriend she doesn’t love (Brad) and her ex-best friend that she outed and shamed (Corvis) take on new roles and importance in her life as Taylor attempts to take back control of her life.Amongst all this teenage high school drama is also family drama as Taylor wonders if her father is a famous movie star, Taylor’s mum and her myriad of boyfriend and former boyfriends are both judged and understood. Susan’s abusive father dies and Heather’s (another friend) parents divorce.In the end Taylor is true to herself and her desire to leave but I don’t think she has stones for her behaviour, she is still self-centred even as she leaves for the West Coast with Heather. Would recommend.
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  • . (not active on this account stop adding me)
    January 1, 1970
    content warnings: uncontested fatphobia, lesbophobia, lesbophobic bullying, internalised homophobia, repeated use of the d slur and other homophobic slursCurrently sitting between a 2 or 3 star rating. Review to come!
  • Jessica | Booked J
    January 1, 1970
    Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Review can be found here at Booked J. As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. First things first: if you're looking for teenagers who act like teenagers, you'll likely appreciate this one! We Were Promised Spotlights accurately portrays a specific lifestyle of one category of teenagers of the era it's set in. At times, its characters can be unlikable and Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Review can be found here at Booked J. As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. First things first: if you're looking for teenagers who act like teenagers, you'll likely appreciate this one! We Were Promised Spotlights accurately portrays a specific lifestyle of one category of teenagers of the era it's set in. At times, its characters can be unlikable and cringy and immature but this is what makes it stand out as realistic. Lindsay Sproul's prose is lively and humorous, with just the right amount of real life issues sprinkled in for good measure. A lot of concerns I've seen about the novel itself are much of the same. Too much problematic behaviors and statements. I agree that there are a lot of things in We Were Promised Spotlights that are on shaky ground. At the same time, I think in the case of this novel it makes the story more authentic to its timeline and setting. It honestly reminds me of something that I'd have read as a teenager, in midst of my love of the Gossip Girl books and the television series Skins. Further, it was easy to feel like this was happening in my old high school--that these classmates were once mine. We Were Promised Spotlights contradicts my opinions of it many times. I find that I neither liked nor disliked it. Yet, I wasn't indifferent, either? I could sit here and point out its flaws and its strengths, but realistically I'd be leading you in circles. There's something about We Were Promised Spotlights that is both highly compelling and a bit underwhelming. What I appreciated most about We Were Promised Spotlights, aside from Sproul's beautiful prose, lays within the narrator herself. Taylor Garland is refreshingly complex and flawed and, at times, absolutely awful. Dreadful. Tied deeply into stereotypes at first glance before gradually unraveling. It's in her awfulness that we see the cracks upon the surface and as we spend more and more time in her head, the more we begin to understand her. We may not always like Taylor, but we know Taylor. Walking away from We Were Promised Spotlights I can honestly say that I didn't like Taylor but the story wouldn't be as indulgent and impactful without her as the narrator. Through the course of this novel, we see these vulnerabilities, these secrets, chip away at Taylor in a way that makes her unflinchingly real. We Were Promised Spotlights won't be for everybody, but I think it's worth a second glance and there's something about it that felt refreshing.
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  • Sophie G
    January 1, 1970
    WOW... The notion that female physical beauty is threatening? To literally everyone? This is the first book I've ever seen that deals with that topic, and it's even better/more complex that the character is queer. This is a THING, people! To all of you delicate flowers complaining about homophobia in this book, you need to realize that it's also a thing. Internalized homophobia was MOST DEF a HUGE thing in the 90s (especially in conservative small towns), and it sadly still is. This book depicts WOW... The notion that female physical beauty is threatening? To literally everyone? This is the first book I've ever seen that deals with that topic, and it's even better/more complex that the character is queer. This is a THING, people! To all of you delicate flowers complaining about homophobia in this book, you need to realize that it's also a thing. Internalized homophobia was MOST DEF a HUGE thing in the 90s (especially in conservative small towns), and it sadly still is. This book depicts it honestly, and frankly, in a way that needed to be said. It's definitely horrible, and can be triggering, but reading is supposed to trigger us. For me, Taylor's journey is so searingly real, and without the intense external/internal homophobia she faces, the book wouldn't work at all. Two more things: The whole Johnny Moon dynamic is what really made me love Taylor, other than her voice. She chooses her OWN path, even when given the chance to have what "every girl would dream of." We see her own her sexuality in the prom scene, and finally take her life into her own hands. Thing Number Two: The writing in this book is FAR FAR FAR better than what I've seen in other YA novels. It's gorgeous. Utterly gorgeous, and weird, and compelling beyond belief. Finally, a book that I relate to. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy in exchange for this review. This book is refreshing. It takes a seemingly unlikable character (who I ultimately found hilarious and real and sympathetic), and the result is a coming out story thats different from any other Ive seen before. Yes, theres a ton of homophobia in this book, and while it made me uncomfortable at times, it feels important to show that the world was like this in the late 90s/early 2000s, and in many places, still is. So many of us still face I received an advanced copy in exchange for this review. This book is refreshing. It takes a seemingly unlikable character (who I ultimately found hilarious and real and sympathetic), and the result is a coming out story that’s different from any other I’ve seen before. Yes, there’s a ton of homophobia in this book, and while it made me uncomfortable at times, it feels important to show that the world was like this in the late 90s/early 2000s, and in many places, still is. So many of us still face that, both inside ourselves and from society. Ditto with fatphobia.While the idea that a lesbian has to “look a certain way” is ridiculous, it feels true sometimes, and this book nails that idea. There’s pressure both from inside and outside the queer community to present yourself in a certain way. The novel shows this through Taylor and Corvis. Their struggles are different, and both valid. This is a triumph of leaving a constructive small town. I loved it. It’s a brave, honest novel.
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    Taylor is the queen of high school. Literally. She's the homecoming queen, and a shoe-in for prom queen. She gets invited to every party. Every girl wants to be her, every guy wants to do her. Everyone thinks Taylor's life is perfect, and that after graduation she'll continue living in their small town and have the perfect life with a husband and a few kids. Except Taylor wants nothing more than to leave town, and she'd rather be with her best friend Susan than have a husband. The end of senior Taylor is the queen of high school. Literally. She's the homecoming queen, and a shoe-in for prom queen. She gets invited to every party. Every girl wants to be her, every guy wants to do her. Everyone thinks Taylor's life is perfect, and that after graduation she'll continue living in their small town and have the perfect life with a husband and a few kids. Except Taylor wants nothing more than to leave town, and she'd rather be with her best friend Susan than have a husband. The end of senior year is getting closer and Taylor is stuck in a future she doesn't want. What better time to blow it all up?This is a very introspective, character-driven story. While it is by no means a comedy, Taylor has a certain biting tone as a narrator that you sometimes can't help but laugh. On the surface, Taylor is the popular bitchy star of her high school, but it doesn't take long before the layers unravel and we get a look inside that persona. She's dealing with sex, an absent father, (internalised) homophobia, anxiety about her future, regret over past mistakes, and a whole lot more. And that is so refreshing, not just in a YA book, but in a queer YA book. This book had on the page descriptions of sex, which hardly ever happens in a YA book.The discussions about sex and sexuality were so real. And there's commentary on body image issues, STIs, sexism, consent, drinking,... This book pretty much does it all. And although this takes place in 1999-2000, it feels very contemporary. Take away the landlines and give everyone a smartphone, and this could've been happening anywhere today. The prom scene is one of those things that you can see coming from miles away, but it was still pretty shocking when it actually happened. The same goes for the ending, which felt out of the blue yet ultimately inevitable. (I received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.)
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I've never read anything quite like this book--the word that comes to mind first when describing it is "honest." Sometimes, it's harsh. Sometimes, it's painful to read. Sometimes, it's hilarious. But it felt overwhelmingly real. I recommend this to people who want to read a book where teenagers feel like real teenagers. Reminded me of Euphoria, Skins and My So-Called Life. The writing itself is beyond Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I've never read anything quite like this book--the word that comes to mind first when describing it is "honest." Sometimes, it's harsh. Sometimes, it's painful to read. Sometimes, it's hilarious. But it felt overwhelmingly real. I recommend this to people who want to read a book where teenagers feel like real teenagers. Reminded me of Euphoria, Skins and My So-Called Life. The writing itself is beyond most YA on the sentence level. I loved it.
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  • McKayla Moors
    January 1, 1970
    Hey y'all! I discussed my thoughts on this book in my January 2020 Wrap-Up video over on booktube. Feel free to check it out!
  • Kaylie Saidin
    January 1, 1970
    THIS BOOK WAS INCREDIBLE. READ THIS BOOK. This is extremely character driven, and theres a lot of nuance to each of them and the ways that they interact with one another. The dialogue felt realistic and ironic and snarky in an authentic teenage-girl way. None of the characters were a one-trick pony (except for maybe Brad, which is fine because one-trick ponies exist in real life, too). Taylor was the perfect narrator for this story. I felt sympathy for her and irritation toward her and I was THIS BOOK WAS INCREDIBLE. READ THIS BOOK. This is extremely character driven, and there’s a lot of nuance to each of them and the ways that they interact with one another. The dialogue felt realistic and ironic and snarky in an authentic teenage-girl way. None of the characters were a one-trick pony (except for maybe Brad, which is fine because one-trick ponies exist in real life, too). Taylor was the perfect narrator for this story. I felt sympathy for her and irritation toward her and I was rooting for her all at once. It’s uncommon to get a YA novel from the perspective of the popular mean girl. I liked that she realized she could be more than that, and more than what her Mom was. The relationship between her and her mother was poignant and sad, and I loved the storyline involving her potential movie-star father Johnny Moon. Another amazing character: Corvis McClellan, the sanest high schooler in this entire book. I love the way that she represents what Taylor wants to be: comfortable, open, and with a plan to escape. The setting was beautifully described (especially in the last two paragraphs of the book). I’ve seen some reviews arguing that this is a historic novel. While I think it has a lot of vibes and affectations from the late 90s, it felt still relevant today, especially in regards to a lot of the homophobia & internalized homophobia. Unfortunately, so much of that is still happening in small towns. The one thing that felt like a relic of the past in this book was that the popular kids didn’t really care about school or anything––I graduated high school in 2016 and it seemed like all the popular kids were making straight As, getting into UCLA and organizing beach cleanups and stuff, lol. The disastrous prom scene felt inevitable, but the ending truly was one I couldn’t have seen coming. (view spoiler)[ Despite the fact that Taylor could probably have grown more as a person by the ending, the feeling of her ending up with Heather felt so satisfying. I was surprised, but after I put the book down and considered their relationship, it made so much more sense than her friendship with Susan. At times it felt like Taylor and Susan’s friendship (and Taylor’s feelings for her) hinged on their past shared childhood experiences. Taylor likes romanticizing her life spent with Susan playing pretend, but it doesn’t seem like Susan was ever as into it as Taylor. As a teenager, Susan seemed like she was deeply insecure in a way Taylor wasn’t and wanted what Taylor had, while Taylor just wanted her. The realization that Susan and Taylor weren’t really good friends to one another was an important one to have and I’m glad it materialized in the book, especially in the end when they choose different paths. Although I hated Heather in the beginning, I began to understand her more and more in the end. Taylor and Heather were always similar and on the same page regarding their mean-girl status and the way they both felt trapped in Hopuonk. It’s a funny feeling because I don’t think they’ll really end up together forever, but they both have the same ambition/spontaneity/daringness needed to propels themselves to the future they both deserve. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]
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  • lapetitepritt
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided with an e-ARC of this book through Edelweiss+, so thank you so much to them and the publisher for giving me the chance to read We Were Promised Spotilights in advance.All opinions are my own and are not influenced in anyway by the means by which I got the book.Yet another one star rating from me. And I think I am being generous. Starting from the beginning. One of my first problems with We Were Promised Starlights was that it was marketed as a contemporary, which it wasnt (it I was provided with an e-ARC of this book through Edelweiss+, so thank you so much to them and the publisher for giving me the chance to read We Were Promised Spotilights in advance.All opinions are my own and are not influenced in anyway by the means by which I got the book.Yet another one star rating from me. And I think I am being generous. Starting from the beginning. One of my first problems with We Were Promised Starlights was that it was marketed as a contemporary, which it wasn’t (it takes place between 1999 and 2000, meaning 20 years ago) and 2. as The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads To You. While I haven’t read nor watched the first one, I really enjoyed Nina LaCour’s book when I picked it up last year for contemporary-a-thon.Anyway, it is not the first time I read a book which is completely different from what it is and once I finally understood that it actually took place in 1999 that part didn’t bother me.The real issue was the main character. Taylor Garland is one of the most unlikable fictional beings I’ve ever encountered in my 20 years long nerd life. I usually actually like unlikable characters, if they are well written. I mean, I liked Octavian from the Heroes of Olympus series and everyone hates the poor guy. Taylor was this annoying mean high school girl, with no interests at all other than judging literally everyone for the way they looked. She is also a lesbian with a shit ton of internalised homophobia, but that’s for later.Other than being judgmental, Taylor Garland has no personality traits and the only prominent thing about her is that she is beautiful and everyone wants either to be her or to be with her. Oh, and according to the author, she is beautiful despite the fact that she is not blonde. Okay, whatever.So this book is full of slut shaming, body shaming and fatphobia. It made me super unconfortable reading all the shitty comments our main charcater makes about all the people she meets. I hoped she would grow by the end of the book, but she didn’t. In the last chapter there is actually a passage of her judging some kids that do not belong to the “in-crowd”.One would think that the trigger warnings for one single book would stop there, but there is more. There is underage drinking, pot smoking and underage cigarette smoking, which I am not uncomfortable with, but I know someone might be, so it must be said.Is that it? Oh, no. There is also a lot of internalised homophobia, as I was saying. Both the main character and some side characters have internalised homophobia and there is just one girl who is comfortable enough with her sexuality, but she is depicted as if she just lets other people be assholes. There is also external homophobia. Every single character except for one is a freaking homophobe in this book. Be aware that there is also a repeated use of the d slur.The plot just straight up sucked. I am sorry to say it, because I was hoping this would be a good F/F book, but in 288 nothing really happened and the childhood flashbacks were so boring I was tempted to skim read this (I didn’t). I was also tempted to DNF it, but I never review books without having actually finished them.Another annoying thing were the romances in this book. The main character swinged here and there and she just seemed to like every girl that showed a little bit of attention towards her. This also reinforces the sterotypes that lesbians just want a random girl to fuck, which is not the case. Another stereotype portrayed here is that you have to appear a certain way to actually be a gay girl, and it was so annoying.Overall, this book was full of offensive things, horrible stereotypes and it didn’t have a real plot, so I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If you want a good lesbian book, please avoid this one.
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  • Hristina
    January 1, 1970
    Before you read the review, I would like to ask you to pay no attention to the overall rating this book has, as it's overfilled with reviews from no-image accounts that have only been used to leave positive reviews for this book. I can't make a definitive statement, but I can say that I find that really suspicious.This was an infuriating book for me. I wanted to like it, but it just didn't happen.A list to sum up all my thoughts.The good:1. I think the characters and their behaviors were Before you read the review, I would like to ask you to pay no attention to the overall rating this book has, as it's overfilled with reviews from no-image accounts that have only been used to leave positive reviews for this book. I can't make a definitive statement, but I can say that I find that really suspicious.This was an infuriating book for me. I wanted to like it, but it just didn't happen.A list to sum up all my thoughts.The good:1. I think the characters and their behaviors were believable for the time age they are and the period the book is set in. To some extent.*2. The way the internalized and externalized homophobia are described is well-written.**The bad:1. I went into the book expecting contemporary YA, but this is historical fiction. The marketing is all wrong. This being marketed as historical fiction could actually save it from the negative reviews it's getting and I imagine will get in the near future.2. This book could use a bit of plot.3. On top of all the homophobia there is so much fat shaming, and so much slut shaming.4. *Though believable, the characters weren't realistic. They all felt one dimensional. **Everything they were was homophobes. It was overdone, and not well balanced with the 'development' they were supposed to be going through.5. I don't think a character needs to be likeable for a book to be enjoyable, but I don't think they should make you hate them. There was nothing about Taylor that made her even remotely intriguing or pleasant.Overall:It's a miracle I finished this book. It's one of those books that specifically piss me off when they make is seem like a character or the world they're set in are black and white, and that is never, ever the case. I wouldn't recommend this book.*Rating: 1/5 stars*Copy received through Edelweiss
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  • Olivia Wong
    January 1, 1970
    This is my FIRST advanced copy--thank you Edelweiss+! (this review is based on the uncorrected proof)As a queer reader of a similar age to Taylor, I found her to be incredibly, almost heartbreakingly real. She does such terrible things, but Sproul shows us where this behavior stems from and why, and also invites us into Taylor's mind in such a way that we KNOW her. (Also--she's SEVENTEEN! With no retrospective adult narration looking back on her behavior, and her working class, uneducated This is my FIRST advanced copy--thank you Edelweiss+! (this review is based on the uncorrected proof)As a queer reader of a similar age to Taylor, I found her to be incredibly, almost heartbreakingly real. She does such terrible things, but Sproul shows us where this behavior stems from and why, and also invites us into Taylor's mind in such a way that we KNOW her. (Also--she's SEVENTEEN! With no retrospective adult narration looking back on her behavior, and her working class, uneducated background, I found these actions/thoughts necessary to make her believable.) I found her funny at times, and I love the way this book explores a character (the popular bitch) who is almost always one-dimensional. I also enjoyed the Johnny Moon element of the book (why isn't there a movie already about Rasputin???) and how it forced her to make a choice about taking ownership of her own life, after so many other people have attempted to "own" her. Overall, I think this book is perfect for people who want to read about teenagers who feel like real teenagers, and the ensemble cast is great. Favorite character spot: Corvis McClellan! Highly recommend this one.
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  • jana [ bookishwiccan ]
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐. 5 / 5Pleasently surprised. Was slow to get into it but after a couple chapters, it was a fairly quick read. Nice new contemporary hitting shelves in March.Shout out to Penguin Teen for sending me an advanced copy! Full review to come on my blog.
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