“I never needed this race, or a hashtag, or the king to be a queen. I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.”

Leah Johnson, You Should See Me in a Crown

Page Count: 328 pages
Year published: 2020
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 stars

TW: being outed, death of a family member, panic attacks, homophobia

Not the Billie Eilish song, BTW!

All her life, Liz Lighty has tried to blend in at her high school in her small midwestern town, but this is challenging considering she’s one of the only Black students at her school. She struggles with fitting in, but it’s okay because in just a few months she will be off to college studying pre-med. That is, until she finds out her financial aid has fallen through. Desperate, Liz decides to run for prom queen, as the winner gets a scholarship. Along the way, Liz gets to know a new student, Mack, who is also running. And as she gets to know her better, she wonders if her feelings for Mack may be more than platonic.

Okay, I generally don’t like hyped books, so I went into this one thinking I would probably be a bit disappointed. However, that was not the case and I was pleasantly surprised! This was definitely one of my favorites contemporaries of the year.

I was a bit worried going in because the plot didn’t sound super intriguing to me. I don’t love prom stories because I always felt like prom was over-hyped at my school. However, that’s exactly how Liz felt as well so it made her relatable in this aspect. Liz is growing up in a small midwestern town, like myself, and so being Black and queer makes her stand out. My heart went out to Liz reading about her experiences in this town because they were similar to some of my queer friends’s experiences in our town. This made the book feel super realistic and made me feel a greater connection to it. Furthermore, this book is about so much more than just prom. It is about discovering who you are, acceptance, first loves, and self love.

Liz and Mack were so much fun to read about. They felt like real people and the entire time I was rooting for them. I felt a connection between Liz and Mack and I liked how they formed a friendship before dating, something I feel like doesn’t happen enough in YA contemporaries. I also liked how their relationship wasn’t perfect. It was messy and confusing, like so many high school relationships are. Again, it made this book feel so real.

I also loved the friendship Liz had with Jordan! It was so much fun watching the two come back together after a few years of growing apart. Liz’s relationship with her female best friend (I can’t think of her name! oops) was also fun. Again, their relationship wasn’t perfect but eventually there are apologies and they come back together. I also loved that the author wrote about girls building one another up. A lot of times, I feel like YA contemporaries have a lot of girls pitted against one another, and although there was some of that, it was definitely overpowered by the positive girl power vibes.

So, basically, read this book! Especially if you grew up in a small town! Or even if you didn’t! I guarantee it will make you smile because it is so stinking cute!

What did you think of this book? Leave your opinions/reviews in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

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