Book Reviews

Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I knew I was going to love You Should See Me in a Crown before I started, but I didn’t expect how much. Tears were shed people! It’s a story about privilege, drawing our own limits, and friendship. Keep reading this book review to see what made me weep!

Summary

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?

Review

TW: anxiety, panic attacks, outing, homophobia

I fell in love with the premise of You Should See Me in a Crown before it was even released. It was an instant win for me. I love rivals to maybe something more, as one of my favorite tropes, and make it sapphic and I am SOLD! What took me by surprise is how much I loved how Liz’s story is a story also about friendship, and the way she holds her own when she comes up against these racist microaggressions. Overall Liz is an amazing character who tugged at my heartstrings until I was crying.

I am not a huge book cry-er, but this one got me so many times at the end. It works so well on a variety of levels: friendship, family, and romance. And each of them have this amazing balance with side characters and Liz’s story, and character growth. It becomes a story about learning to say no, to establish our boundaries, to navigate friendships. To search for forgiveness, to discover our own transparencies. On every level, You Should See Me in a Crown is an utter victory. I can’t believe I didn’t read it the day my pre-order came, but consider my vote secured.

Find You Should See Me in a Crown on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.

Discussion

Who is your favorite prom queen?


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