you should see me in a crown – leah johnson | review

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Published June 2nd 2020 by Scholastic Press
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Representation: Black, queer (f/f romance), anxiety, panic attacks, disability


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


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?

👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 

trigger and content warnings:

Liz blends into the crowd and is desperate to leave her Midwestern town for college. When her financial aid application went haywire, determined to do whatever it takes to get that scholarship, Liz decided to run for prom queen in which attached comes with a scholarship.

You Should See Me in a Crown is a beautiful story about being unstoppable, doing things out of one’s comfort zone, and standing up for what’s right. The book spotlighted serious issues such as homophobia, racism, and grief. Simultaneously, it emphasized community strength, friendship, and the desire of achieving one’s dreams.

I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.

Another contestant running for prom queen is Mack. When she was first introduced, Mack already stood up for things she believed in and calls out people for being racist or homophobic. Down-to-earth and speaks her mind, Mack was easy to like. The thought of having any form of relationship with Mack was daunting for Liz since she’s not out as queer.

Brought up by their grandparents, Liz and her brother, Robbie, the siblings are close. With Robbie being sick, Liz is incredibly protective of him. Throughout Liz’s journey of breaking out of her shell, Robbie had been there supporting and motivating her. Both of them would do anything for each other without a shadow of a doubt. Though their granddad only showed up once in a while, he had the funniest lines and reactions. Every conversation with grandma was filled with love.

We succeed in spite of, or maybe even because of, the odds against us. That’s just the Lighty Way.

Leah Johnson subverts typical YA tropes using this popularity contest that thrives on the classic elements of a high school hierarchy and system. In this prom-obsessed town, parents, especially wealthy ones, go all out for their children to win the spot as king and queen. Liz thought it would be impossible for her to win as a Black queer but even when the odds are stacked against her, she was willing to try.

All in all, I loved what You Should See Me in a Crown represented. It was a light-hearted read but the author also took the chance to explore serious topics. The author didn’t fall into the typical plot points when it comes to the setting around prom. I couldn’t help but adore the fluffy and adorable romance between Liz and Mack. Liz’s own journey towards finding herself and becoming more was incredible.

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4 thoughts on “you should see me in a crown – leah johnson | review”

  1. absolutely loved your review, belle!! 💖 This book is next on my to-be-read (or should i say to-be-heard) list, because i thrive on prom drama haha. also the amazing diversity!! I definitely have high expectations for it, so I’m really glad you enjoyed it!! Your moodboard is gorgeous, as always 🥺❤ great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

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