Hi everyone! It’s me, back again with another review! I’ve really been flying through the books I’ve been reading lately and, I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been having a really great time! Today I decided to write a review for a book that was so close to making me cry – it’s You Should See Me in a Crown!
Title: You Should See Me in a Crown
Author: Leah Johnson
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars – 8.71 CAWPILE rating
Synopsis: 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?
This book is so utterly sugary sweet and adorable! Our main character Liz has always felt a little bit like an outsider all through school – she’s got great grades, she’s in the school band, and she’s a little bit awkward. She has a great group of friends around her but has never felt like she really fits in. She’s an extremely hard worker and hopes to go to a very prestigious university to eventually become a doctor to help haematology patients, like her late mother, and younger brother. However, her music scholarship falls through and she needs to find another way to afford college. So, with a bit of encouragement from her brother and best friend Gabi, she decides to run for prom queen. Liz was such a sweet main character! She often put others before herself, even when it maybe wasn’t the best for her and was always helping those less fortunate – the scene with her and Mack reading to all the kids was the absolute cutest! The side characters were also so, so good! I really loved Jordan, who was one of Liz’s best friends when they were younger, but drifted apart from her as they started growing up. Their himbo/lesbian friendship dynamic is literally one of my favourite tropes! Jordan was always looking out for Liz and helping her through tough situations. He was her biggest cheerleader and was just an absolute sweetheart – he deserves the world! Talking of absolute sweethearts who deserve the world, I think Quinn is such an underrated character, no-one ever talks about her! She was always so kind to Liz and was always so accommodating of her feelings and stood up for her, even against her other friends. Liz’s best friend group, Gabi, Britt and Stone were so supportive of her and I loved their dynamic (especially Stone always rambling about astrology or some wishy-washy made up nonsense), I know it is a tiny detail, but I was so excited to see Britt being part of a girl’s rugby team just like I was!!
There’s also Liz’s relationship with her brother and grandparents. Liz lost her mum at a young age to sickle cell disease, so lives with her grandparents, while her younger brother is also currently struggling with the hereditary illness. There was some discussion throughout the book about someone you love having a life threatening illness, which really hit home for me as someone whose family member is dealing with cancer. The book discusses the fear that lingers in the back of your mind that you’re just constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop and that things are just going to get worse. The book also shows Liz dealing with anxiety very well and very sensitively, particularly showing how her friends helped her deal with it in her worst moments.
My favourite aspect of the book was, of course, the romance between Liz and Mack! Mack is the kind of cool, indie skater girl that I would definitely have had a crush on in high school! Seeing their relationship grow and becoming more comfortable with each other and really understanding each other was so sweet. There were several points where I was grinning from ear to ear, it was just so cute!!!!
Of course, I have to mention why the book didn’t receive a full five stars from me – and it’s completely a me problem, not a problem with a book. The writing at times felt very cringey (no spoilers but everyone clapping at the end – or is it just an American thing?) and juvenile, but I am very aware that this book is targeted at someone much younger than I am, so please take this criticism with a pinch of salt, if you are the intended audience! Regardless, I really, really enjoyed this book and it’s one that I wish I could have read when I was a teen, because I know how seen and understood it would have made me feel. I really wish that every sapphic girl, particularly every Black sapphic girl, could get their hands on this book, because it really is such an important read.