Title: You Should See Me in a Crown
Author: Leah Johnson
Date Published: June 2nd 2020
ADD TO GOODREADS
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down…until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams…or make them come true?
A book about a queer Black teen with anxiety running for prom queen? I couldn’t leave this book in the dust, I had to read it! You Should See Me in a Crown is a book that depicts high school life so authentically. It didn’t feel like it was trying too hard to be “relatable.” Everything flowed really well and the pop culture references didn’t feel forced. Johnson writes the story of Liz’s life as a teen from a genuine point of view. Overall, I really enjoyed following Liz’s prom queen campaign. Please be aware, there are trigger warnings for this book which are: anxiety, loss of a loved one, a chronically ill loved one, homophobia and outing.
The Emphasis on Family and Friendship
I love how Johnson shows the importance of family and friends through Liz’s character. You can really tell that Liz holds her family dear to her heart. After all, the reason why she ran for prom queen is so her grandparents don’t sell her late mum’s house to provide for her financially in college due to her scholarship rejection. She has a brother with Sickle Cell Disease, a genetic trait more common in Black people. And although there’s not much dialogue between the two, I still felt the sibling love between them.
Liz also values her friendships, you can tell mean the world to her. There are ups, downs and secrets between Liz and her best friend, Gabi. I didn’t like Gabi’s character as a whole, as she’s a controlling and manipulative character. But I like how Johnson shows how there’s a reason to why she’s like that. It’s not an excuse at all, but it shows her character isn’t one dimensional. Liz also reunites with her ex-best friend, Jordan. She absolutely adored Jordan to bits and the end of their friendship took a toll on Liz. I didn’t trust Jordan because of this, but I was intrigued to see if he and Liz rekindled their friendship.
Liz and Mack
Referencing back to the importance of friendship I love how Liz and Mack are actually friends first! They bond through their love for music too and it’s so cute! I loved seeing how music brought them closer! Their relationship didn’t seem like it was moving too fast and there wasn’t an ounce of insta-love that is generally seen in YA books. You Should See Me in a Crown isn’t completely a romance book though. It has a good balance between Liz’s romance life and her high school experience.
Like Rogue Princess, I read this as an audiobook and enjoyed it! It was so nice to listen/read a book like this where topics such as microaggressions, homophobia, mourning and anxiety are raised. No YA book I’ve read has shown these struggles that the main characters deal with so well. I do wish that there was more dialogue between Liz and her family but it didn’t completely ruin my experience of the book. I still got the impression that Liz’s family dynamic is so strong and precious to her! This is definitely a book that people have to read. More representation is so important, especially for young adults who read YA. I know if a book like this was released in my teen years, I’d appreciate it even more!