Contemporary (Teen)

Review: You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

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This book has been one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. I’m really glad I got to buddy read this one with the lovely Nora @ Rating My Reads – it was a super fun experience and a great way to gather my thoughts!

You Should See Me in a Crown book cover

You Should See Me in a Crown

by Leah Johnson

Published May 2, 2020 by Scholastic Press
ISBN: 133850326X

Data from Goodreads

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?

My Review: Cute Read, Great Diversity … Lacking Details

TW: racism, homophobia, anxiety/panic attacks, chronic illness

While I enjoyed reading this book enough to whiz through it, it wasn’t a perfect read for me.

The Pros: What worked for me

  • Liz is a great character. She is important not only for the Black representation but also for anxiety rep. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it was so amazing to see that representation – and see it done well! The author mentioned different coping mechanisms and strategies that people actually use, and described the different ways anxiety can manifest itself. This was not a throwaway mention, and I appreciated the author’s detailed and thorough research.
  • The story has an interesting concept. I remember my prom and all of the fuss that came with it. I loved that this story took things over-the-top!

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • I wasn’t a fan of the pacing of the story. It either felt as if too many things were happening too quickly or as if nothing was really happening. A lot of the emotional elements needed more time to set up and the story was missing that.
  • Many of the other characters were underdeveloped. There needed to be a backstory and the author didn’t really create one. Quite a few of them just popped in for a short period of time and then disappeared, only to reappear again when it was convenient.
  • There was quite a bit of telling and not showing. At one point, (Click to reveal spoiler) we are told that Liz always sticks up for herself and for others and we hear about all of these other interactions that she has had… but it just not believable because of how Liz has been portrayed this entire time. Maybe if it was shown instead of told, I would have accepted it.
  • While the author mentioned many important themes, their resolution was not satisfactory. Racism, homophobia, socioeconomic differences, all of these were highlighted throughout the story – and rightly so! But the way they were “resolved” was just so simple that it took away from the gravity of the situation.

I know I sound really harsh when I’m talking about this book. However, I actually did enjoy the story. I think that if this book is read by younger teens, they would really enjoy it. It is relevant, cute, and worth reading. It’s just that I personally had some issues with the way the story was written that compromised my enjoyment. I’m still giving it 3/5 stars and recommending it to tons of my friends – so I hope you will, too!

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!


4 thoughts on “Review: You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

  1. I had a lot of fun reading this book but I understand what made it not perfect. I do think that the Liz and her bff’s relationships should’ve been more expanded upon and the final reunion could’ve been done a lot better!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely a good read and the negatives are minor things but it took away a bit from my enjoyment of the story. Thanks for commenting!

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