Title: You Should See Me In A Crown
Author: Leah Johnson
Page Count: 328
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year Published: 2020
Age Category: Young Adult
Rep: queer, chronic illness, black main character, sapphic romance
Trigger warnings: homophobia, racism, attempted hate crime, dead parent
*This is a completely spoiler free review
After her scholarship falls through, Liz Lighty decides to join her high school’s competition for Prom Queen because the Prom King and Queen get a scholarship. The only problem is that her small Indiana town is really homophobic and there can’t be two queens or kings. Liz starts to develop feelings for fellow contestant Mack.
For full disclosure, I cannot speak about the rep in this book because I am not QPOC. I am queer, but I do acknowledge that my experience as a queer is different than a person of color.
I really enjoyed this book! I have felt at moments that I am starting to grow out of rom coms, but this book showed me exactly what I want. I love rom coms that do talk about more serious topics while also being pretty lighthearted, which I would say that this book does. Liz Lighty frequently talks her race and sexuality and how that is treated in her small town and also the loss of her mother at a young age to sickle cell disease. While this book was a super fun read, it also adds very important commentary about the society that we live in.
I really loved Liz as a narrator. I understood why she made the decisions she did and felt the way she did. I related to her insecurity and fear of being the center of attention even though I couldn’t relate to her from a racial standpoint. I love watching her break out of her shell more and more as she fought against the system she was raised in.
I really loved how there was a really strong romance plot, but there was also a really strong friendship plot. During this competition/pageant, Liz is starting to reignite her friendship with a former best friend of hers, Jordan. There were moments where Liz’s feelings had felt in my brain similar to the ending of a crush, but it also really illustrated to me how emotionally destructive friend breakups can be. I haven’t been in any romantic relationships, but I can speak for friend breakups.
I wasn’t completely convinced with many of the characters. I loved Liz, and I liked Mack, but some of the other characters felt like caricatures to me, like Liz’s best friend Gabby. Gabby was such a terrible friend and had done so many awful things to Liz throughout the entire book. I am also usually team “throw away the Mean Girl trope,” but I do think that Rachel was necessary because she did show what was wrong with the town.
The reason that I can’t give it five stars is because of the literal plot of the book. I liked it, but I did have to suspend my disbelief a little because I have never heard of any town caring that much about prom, and I do live in the Midwest. And there is an app that everyone at the school goes on called Campbell Confidential, which I did not find realistic at all. It reminded me of Victorious more than anything.
Overall, I really liked this book a lot. I think these books need to be brought attention to because it is the definition of black joy. I love books that discuss dismantling the society that the character’s in, and this book definitely had.