You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Posted August 26, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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You Should See Me In A Crown

You Should See Me In A Crown

by Leah Johnson

Publisher: Scholastic Press on June 2, 2020
Genre: #OwnVoices, Contemporary, LGBTQIAP+
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on 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?

 

You Should See Me in a Crown is a perfect YA contemporary book.

The book’s so well written and the realism and issues folded together nicely. My critical brain was fully able to step back and just enjoy this book.  And what a great book it was?

Liz Lightly is a music nerd, a Black girl, and likes girls.  In the small town of Campbell, none of the things really endear her to running for Prom Queen, especially not in a town where Prom is a Really Big Deal.  When a scholarship for her dream school doesn’t pan out, the $10,000 awarder being voted Prom Queen feels like the only way out.  And Liz is game.  She’s a fighter.  It’s the Lighty way.

I like Liz or many reasons, but one of these reasons was because she’s messy.  Liz Lighty is an underdog in so many ways and she’s such a strong person because when the world kicks her down, so gets back up again. Every.  Single.  Time.  Most of this book feels like just a normal semester in Liz’s life but as you read further and further, you feel Liz’s exhaustion and the burdens she bears every day by just being who she is, let alone trying to get the scholarship.  There are so many brilliant thing Leah Johnson did in You Should See Me in a Crown, one of which was that the fact that Liz would be the first Black Prom Queen in town… but that was never the Point of the story.  Johnson keeps this story about Liz, not about making a statement about changing the world.  Instead, she showed the world from Liz’s perspective and helped make the reader aware of the problems.  There are people who are terrible in the universe and people who are trying to do better.

I liked that this story about about Liz, and not about racism, homophobia, or a specific issue.  Issue books are important and have their place, but books about people are important, too.  This is an important book in its own right, but it’s important to see the people in stories and not just the issues.  And You Should See Me in a Crown touches on so much!  Liz feels so alive in this book, with so many interests and worries and small joys, and I was really rooting for her the whole time.  And, don’t get me wrong – the issues here are important and need to be given their consideration.  But Liz isn’t taking on the world here.  She’s taking care of her world.

You Should See Me in a Crown is a great story about life and love and friendship and dreams and fear and hope and just… it’s genuinely such a good book.  It has a lot to teach its readers, it makes you mad at times but in the ways it aims to.  It’s an enjoyable read alongside being an important one.  I totally, completely, 100% recommend it.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

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You Should See Me In a Crown Stays on My SHelf

This is an absolute no brainer – this is a fabulous read and I really enjoyed it.  I’d certainly read it again.  I enjoyed the time I spent with Liz, and besides that, I feel like there is so much to unpack in Liz’s relationships with G, Jordan, and Amanda.  Additionally, I feel like there’s a lot to Rachel to unpack. Quinn.  There are a lot of people in this story that feel real and complicated.

Basically, this is a book I want to be reading again both for enjoyment and further education.

It’s a book I would buy copies of for friends, too.  Just rally solidly good, want it on my shelf, fabulous YA contemporary material.

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Do you have any really good diverse YA contemporary books you recommend to people?  If you have a favorite you’d like to share, I’d love to read it!  Let me know your recommendations in the comments!

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