Prom Mom
Grade : A-

Prom Mom takes themes incredibly prevalent in women’s fiction and twists them upside down, making a potent point about revenge, accountability, and pigeonholing. The returning bad girl, the reformed bad boy, the innocent wife – they collide here and live and breathe and twist in the wind. The end result is something incredibly powerful.

Amber Glass gained notoriety at the age of seventeen when she delivered a baby in a post-prom motel room and left the child in a pile of bloody towels to be found dead by the hotel maid the morning after. Amber doesn’t recall if the infant was born alive or dead; she remembers nothing more than the rush of pain and blood. And, most importantly, that her date, Joe Simpson – the father of the child – dumped her there before the birth happened, to go chase Kaitlyn, his long-term girlfriend who had recently dumped him. Amber is more aghast by the dumping than the apparent stillbirth; the prom was supposed to fix things and make him fall for her. Instead, they were boiled down by the tabloids into two simplistic caricatures – the “prom mom” and the “cad dad”.

Years have passed since that night, and Amber – who, after spending a few months in a juvenile detention faculty and then several years in New Orleans – has finally moved back to Baltimore, and plans to use the money she inherited from her stepfather to open up an art gallery.

While Amber has borne the label of the ‘prom mom’ for her entire life and lost jobs and extended family thanks to it, Joe has found popularity and success as a commercial real estate agent working at his father’s company. He’s married to a lovely woman named Meredith, a fastidious, image-conscious plastic surgeon and daughter of notable doctors whose miserable lives – filled with blame for Meredith – convinced her never to have kids of her own. Meredith’s childhood battle with leukemia has scarred her emotionally (she thinks her cancer battle is what killed her parent’s marriage and turned them both into alcoholics) and left her desperate to prove she’s no wimpy charity case. Joe and Meredith occupy their lives with suburban mundanity – tennis, perfect meals, classic movies, and other wheel-spinning ideas. The sterling reputation of Meredith and her family have helped transform Joe’s ‘Cad Dad’ label and – distancing himself from the incident beyond seeing himself as a victim of Amber’s choices – he’s gotten on with his life. But Joe is bored at home and conducts secretive affairs, just like he did when he was a teenager. Then they learn about Amber’s gallery, and their perfect lives begin to shake apart.

It’s Joe who initiates contact; it’s Amber who falls back into old patterns. As the Covid-19 pandemic descends upon Baltimore, everything shifts menacingly. When Joe asks something impossible of Amber, will she do it?

Prom Mom is fun for multiple reasons, even though it’s quite a slow burn experience. Everyone involved in the narrative is utterly terrible, from Amber’s blinders-on behavior, to Joe’s selfish hedonism and good-boy blandishments, to Meredith’s fear of any form of physical imperfection and determination to false strength. That makes them complex and real. I mentioned that the novel seems to play with women’s fiction tropes, from the reunited lovers to the return to ones hometown. And the end result is wicked, brutal, and ultimately redemptive.

Amber, at least, is sympathetic – and in the end, quite smart. Joe is such an obviously terrible person – a life of pathetically abdicating blame, and indeed blaming the women around him for his terrible choices, which ultimately ends up – well, you’ll see. You will not root for him to be with either of these women. Meredith cannot settle herself into a real life, and thus she floats on the surface in bourgeois demi-perfection. Do not go to this book looking for romance, for you will not get it.

Together they fall into a year-long pit of pandemic ennui which is a little more interesting than the nineties-based horror which Amber has to live through. The torpor is real, and the emptiness of our protagonists’ lives feels like a fever dream, until things finally begin to happen. And the climax is the book’s biggest problem; it feels like a fitting, but an ordinary, thriller twist. I wanted a little more out of the book than what I got.

But the bloody brilliance of Prom Mom is that it knows the ordinary can be wicked, and that wickedness ought to be answered by justice.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes

Grade: A-

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : July 23, 2023

Publication Date: 07/2023

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Recent Comments …

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
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