Skip to main content

You Should See Me In A Crown YA Book Review

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Overview: Liz never thought she'd run for prom queen. It's a deeply entrenched tradition on the suburb of Campbell, Indiana. Though it's mostly a show of popularity, there is a scholarship for the king and queen. When Liz doesn't get as much financial aid as she needs to go to her dream school, she signs herself up to compete. After many weeks of community service and competitions, prom season manages to change the course of Liz's senior year. Overall: 5

Character: 5 I loved Liz! She was such a great main character to follow because she has the right amount of optimism and reality. She has a lot happening in her life that she has to juggle and keep up with, and I could definitely identify with her feelings of never having done enough. Over the course of the prom season, she forces herself to come out of her shell a little more and get comfortable with throwing herself in the middle of the mix. It also causes an identity struggle. Liz has always made herself smaller and quieter as a defense, and when she starts her campaign, her best friend, Gabi, insists the only way she can win is if she conforms more. Gabi makes her wear suburban country club mom clothes and pushes Liz to keep her sexuality a secret. Luckily, over the course of the book, Liz finds proof of what she knew all along- being herself will get her a lot farther.
I think we all know a Gabi. She means well- or you think she probably means well- but she does a lot of damage in the process. Her microagressions and more than subtle homophobia towards Liz under the veil of "meaning well" or "wanting it to be easier for her" leaves Liz doubting herself while also feeling uncomfortable with the alternative. Hopefully readers will use Liz's experiences with Gabi as a way to look at their own interactions with those they love and remind people to check their language and what they decide to say to other people. As time goes on, Liz does what's right for herself and starts to distance their friendship, and I thought it was a great example of how friendships don't have to be one level of close forever.
Jordan is also a great character. He was close with Liz when they were kids, but they grew apart in high school as he joined the popular football crowd as his avenue to acceptance. Over the course of running for king and queen together, they're forced to interact more often, and they're able to work through their past misunderstandings. I loved seeing all these different friendship dynamics and how certain people are just a better fit for that particular moment of your life. Jordan was also there for so much of her childhood that he inherently understands a lot of the outside stressors she has to deal with. He's a great example of a quality support system for Liz and her struggle with anxiety.
Then there's Amanda who starts school right as prom season kicks off. With died hair and multiple nose rings, she looks like the last person who would want to run for prom queen, but that makes her all the more interesting to Liz. The more they hang out at community service projects, the more they find they have in common. They're both funny, their obsessed with the same band, and they're both queer. While Amanda's past isn't super delved into, this seems like Liz's first time exploring the possibility of a romantic relationship. Amanda is the perfect person for that as she's so understanding, attentive, and stable in the hurricane that has taken over Liz's life. You can tell that the people in her life always come first.
Family is also an important part of the story. After losing her mom to sickle cell anemia as a child, Liz has lived with her grandparents and her brother. Her brother also has sickle cell, and Liz always has an undercurrent of worry about his health. She also works a part time job and works to help out her grandparents who have a lot on their plate.

Plot: 4 The main plot revolves around the epic prom competition. There's no way to properly explain just how elaborate this competition truly is without just making you read the book. It's worth picking up for the prom antics alone.
Through these challenges, Liz also maps out her identity and her relationships. She's torn between being what her friends see as "competitive" and being herself. Through those conversations,  she feels pressure to keep her relationship with Amanda under wraps to improve her odds at queen. Seeing that Campbell is a rich, predominantly white, midwestern suburb, everyone feels like Liz is starting behind, and they make a lot of assumptions about what their classmates will respond to. Usually, I really dislike the "let's keep our relationship a secret" thing because you always know how it'll go and the reasons always feel avoidable, I understood Liz's motivation wholeheartedly. She was convinced by school policy and who was leading the race that being openly queer would ruin her chance at the scholarship she desperately needed. This isn't right or even true, but as you follow Liz, you understand her fear completely. I still felt horrible for Amanda, but it made sense. You're always wondering whether Liz is being set up to succeed or fail, but by the end, you're so invested in the characters that it feels like it matters less who wins and loses. You get the sense that Liz will be able to figure anything out.

Writing: 5 This book was a great read! It managed to be light and perfect for summer fun reading while also getting in tons of important points and grounding elements. I loved that her family story was so featured and had its own arch because it is such a part of getting to know Liz. The fabric of all the different friendship were also so intricate. It felt very true to life and in full brightness.
The writing is so fun and easy to slip into and engage with. I have been in a massive reading slump (this is the only book I've read all of June), and I'd tried reading a ton of different books. This was the only one that was able to hold my attention, and I finished it in three days.

If You Like This Book...


Popular posts from this blog

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Once Upon a Quinceañera

Once Upon a Quinceañera   by Monica Gomez-Hera Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC so I could share my honest thoughts with all of you! Overview: Carmen hasn't graduated high school, even though it's the summer after senior year. When her senior project fell through, Carmen has to scramble to complete the project over the summer. That means no college (not that she applied) and no future plans beyond becoming a Dream (floating around in a Belle costume at children's parties) with her best friend Waverley. So maybe it's not the summer Carmen wanted, but it's fine. At least until her ex-boyfriend who ruined everything, Mauro, also shows up on the team and then they get assigned to work her nemesis and younger cousin's quinceañera, which becomes the big event of the summer. Nothing ever quite goes to plan for Carmen, does it? Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I enjoyed hanging out with Carmen for a while. She's super witty and cynical in a way that I

Olivia Rodrigo'a SOUR As YA Books: Track By Track

This list turned out to be much harder to make than I anticipated when I came up with the idea last week. I set out to match songs to SOUR because what goes better with an album written by a 17/18 year old than YA books, but it turns out that YA books are just too hopeful for this album. Unlike many of these songs, I couldn't find books where the characters ended the book totally despondent and broken up. It took a bit of brainstorming, but I think I found a book to match the essence of each SOUR track. Le me know in the comments which songs on SOUR are your favorite. Mine are "brutal", "favorite crime", "deja vu", and "jealousy, jealousy".  1. "brutal" : War and Speech   by Don Zolidis War and Speech just radiates the same badass, discontented with teenage life energy as "brutal". This was the first book that popped into my mind when I thought about making this post. Just look at the cover. Sydney's life has been fa

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

What's on my YA TBR: September 2021 Edition

September is always a magical, busy time in bookland because there are always a million books releasing to get ready for the holiday rush. That's how this list wound up featuring 7 books. There are a couple like Never Saw You Coming  and As If On Cue  that I've had my eyes on for almost a year, and then there are some new discoveries that I'm super super excited about. From heartfelt contemporaries to K-Pop to a musical anthology and a summer camp of animators, there's something for everyone on this list. I haven't been this excited about a TBR of books in a while, and I'm sad that with starting school, it'll probably take me a while to get through them, but I'm hoping my local library will pick up copies soon. Speaking of which, I have tons of new libraries to explore around campus! As always, I want to make it as easy as possible to preorder these books and connect with the authors who wrote them! If you click the link in the title of each book, it wil

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

My First Time Trying a Book Box: Literati Luminary Book Club Review

I am incredibly excited for today's blog posts because I'm working with Literati to share my experience with their Luminary Book Club. If you've been keeping up with my posts, I recently talked about how book clubs are an amazing way to fend off a reading slump, especially when life gets super hectic, and even with a super long TBR, I've still felt lost when I go to pick out my next read. I'm so grateful to Literati for sending me a book box and sponsoring this post!  On top of feeling stuck with choosing what to read, I've also been trying to explore more genres and the world outside of YA. YA has been my home base for so long that I always get overwhelmed trying to figure out what I want to read in other genres. Luckily, Literati had just what I needed. I got the chance to choose from 13 different book clubs all curated by Luminaries who are amazing, award winning writers, thought leaders, and artists you most definitely know like Malala and her Fearless cl

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Adult Literature Reviewed

  Everything I Never Told You  by Celeste Ng (Just a warning, this review will have some degree of spoilers cause I don't know how to write a full review without them) Overview: Lydia is dead. Just turned 16 and already gone. With no close friends to point to a possible explanation and no leads, her family is left confused, forced to confront a world without their favorite daughter. Instead of a murder mystery, what unfolds is a heartbreaking story of a family in 1970s Ohio forced to confront every tiny, fractured web that led up to Lydia death. Bouncing around with no bounds for time, space, or narrator, we hear stories from Nath, Lydia, and Hannah's childhoods, Marilyn's young adulthood, and Jame's struggles to rise through the ranks as a Chinese American professor in small town Ohio. What it leaves is a heartbreaking portrait of how little we might truly know about the people we sleep in the same house with every single night. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 This is a hard

Fresh by Margot Wood: YA Book Review

  Fresh  by Margot Wood Get a Copy (this is an affiliate link. purchasing through this bookshop link helps support indie bookstores and this blog at no cost to you) Overview: Elliot isn't really sure why she's going to college. It's the next step that people take in life, I guess. She also isn't sure why she's at Emerson. It sounded better than Ohio State. She has no plan, no clue and how to approach college life. Quickly, Elliot gets sucked into a whirlwind of all the worst college tropes- the endless cereal bar, hooking up with everyone in the Little Building, not paying attention in any of her that classes she doesn't really want to be in anyway... the list goes on. She quickly forms a tight group of friends on her floor, but even those connections get tested as the year progresses. Eventually, Elliot is forced to realize that she needs to care about the academic side of college, and she craves closer connections than a trail of hook ups. Elliot, like most co

How To Keep Reading (Even With a Busy School Schedule)

Back to school season. New pens and markers, backpacks, and routines all come with less time to read. Maybe you spent all summer devouring books but have hardly read a page since school started. Or maybe you're like me and were in a slump before the semester even began. Regardless, we're all looking to get back into reading for fun, even with less time on our hands. Over the years, I've found tons of convenient ways to sneak more time into the day for finishing books and keeping non-required reading a part of your weekly schedule. Not all of these tips will work for everyone, so definitely scroll through the list and take what might work for you and leave what doesn't. Or, you could try a new tip each week and see which ones stick.  1. Read on Your Commute  Everyone's  commute looks different, so this tip won't universally apply, but it's a great way to take advantage of under-utilized time. If you walk or drive yourself to school, audiobooks are a great wa