You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (336 pages)
You Should See Me in a Crown Throws Overachiever Liz Into The Prom Queen Race
Liz Lighty’s plan to escape her small town comes crashing down when the financial aid she was counting on to attend the elite Pennington College unexpectedly falls through. But then she’s reminded of her high school’s scholarship for prom queen. While the weeks-long process of running for prom court is supposed to focus on volunteering and school spirit, it’s more like a gauntlet of competition and social media trolls. Despite her fear of the spotlight and her belief that she’ll never shine in her Midwestern hometown, Liz signs up. Thankfully, there’s a new girl, Mack, who makes the whole thing almost bearable. Mack’s funny and talkative, and just as much as an outsider as Liz at the events. But she’s also the competition… Will falling for Mack keep Liz from her dreams or make them come true?
A Delightful And Realistic Must-Read
Many YA novels focus on the senior year of the high school experience. The main character either doesn’t know what they want to do with their life, or if they do have a passion, they haven’t admitted or realized that it can be a legitimate career. You Should See Me in a Crown takes a different tact. Liz Lighty knows what she wants to do—become a hematologist—and she’s been open with her loved ones about it. However, there are real-world barriers in her way of getting there—namely, ensuring she has the funds to attend the college that will help her reach her goals. This different approach made the story feel fresh and real and pulled me into the tale.
Liz herself feels like a real person to me. She’s already “out” to her family and friends, and while it’s not a huge deal, she’d prefer the whole school wasn’t involved in her love life. At school, she doesn’t quite fit in, yet doesn’t quite stand out. Even though Liz flies under the radar at school (at least until the prom queen competition ramps up), she stands out on the page. Plus, her friendships and the up and downs in those relationships were essential to the story, which I loved. Liz juggles two friendship “dramas” as well as her quest for prom queen, her budding romance with Mack, health issues in her family, and her own studies. Sure, there’s a lot going on, but it’s well-balanced and reads like real life since it’s the rare person who doesn’t have many balls in the air at once.
The Bottom Line: 4.5/5 Brookie Stars
Read this one for the sweet romance, the realistic relationships, and the jaw-dropping quest for prom queen (I mean, the hoops they have to jump through!). You Should See Me in a Crown is the direction YA as a category should be going, and, thankfully, is going—it’s diverse, relatable, and emotionally evocative, and therefore, is a must-read.
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Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.
Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse