You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson – REVIEW
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?
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Scholastic.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“When you already feel like everything about you makes you stand out, it just makes sense to find as many ways to blend in as you can.”
You’ve probably seen this book all over Twitter and Instagram and that’s because it’s utter perfection. Set in small-town, prom-obsessed, Campbell County, it follows seventeen-year-old Liz Lighty as she campaigns for Prom Court in the hope of winning a $10,000 scholarship. Liz’s high school is predominantly white and wealthy whereas she’s Black and poor. To avoid unwanted attention, Liz hides a lot of her true self such as the fact she’s attracted to girls. Additionally, her carefully controlled hair is a symbol of her wish to diminish her Blackness to fit in. Liz was such an engaging and likeable character and I quickly became invested in her journey.
“I try to channel the confidence of a mediocre white man in a boardroom: untouchable.”
I genuinely loved the relationships in this book, from the affectionate sibling relationship Liz shares with younger brother Robbie, to the unconditional support she receives from her grandparents, and the female friendship group she’s part of. The author also explores the changing nature of childhood friendships through the characters of Gabi and Jordan. Both were handled really well and offered different insights into friendship dynamics. As Liz navigates the prom campaign, the reader is also introduced to Mack, a fierce and smart drummer with almost no filter. The w|w romance between Liz and Mack was beautifully portrayed and I just wanted them to find acceptance and be happy together.
“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.”
The prom campaign results in Liz emotionally maturing and learning to own her truth. Acceptance is a key theme and Liz challenges the status quo is more ways than one. The final scenes are so moving and heartwarming and demonstrated how this book would make a fantastic film in the vein of a ’90s rom-com. The warm and witty writing style is assured and engaging, inviting the reader to fall in love with the incredible Liz and to find the courage to be their true self. If you haven’t read this book yet then do yourself a favour and beg, borrow, or buy a copy.