You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Review by Ms Farley, Librarian

Library age rating: suitable for Year 7+

Genre: contemporary, LGBT, romance

Content warning: homophobia, racism, deceased parent, public outing

Plot summary

Liz Lighty plans to attend the uber-elite Pennington College, to play in their world-famous orchestra, and to 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. Liz has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed town, 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?

Positives

 I wish books like this were around when I was at school, it's very cute. This book perfectly balances the difficulties and messiness of teen life with a hopeful and inspiring narrative that completely modernises the prom queen story we're all familiar with. The characters are human, they make mistakes, and they learn from them - which is a great message for teenagers today. I also really liked the diverse cast of characters in this book.

Negatives

There is the typical 'mean girl' character in the book which was quite stereotypical and frustrating to read.

 Reading recommendations

If you liked this book then you should try Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. Leah Johnson's newest book Rise to the Sun will be published in July 2021.