Tuesday, August 11, 2020

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
Release Date - June 2, 2020
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 328 pages
My Rating - 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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?
There are some books that leave you with a feeling when you are done. This feeling becomes the thing that you most strongly associate with the book. In the case of You Should See Me In A Crown that feeling would be joy. It's easily a must read for young adult contemporary fans and offers up a delightful distraction when you need it.

This book reminds me of a modern John Hughes movie. The focus on the race for Prom Queen makes it feel so classically high school in a way that those movies also capture. The entire vibe is a much more updated version of the tone of those movies. It made the book feel very comforting in a way that those movies have when I watch them while feeling ill. 

Leah Johnson's writing is a stand out of this novel. The book reads as breezy and light and that takes a lot of skill. It's pacing and flow are a testament to the writing skills that are displayed. This author is definitely one to watch and one I would put on par with any of those authors considered the greats of young adult contemporaries.

Liz is the type of main character that the reader wants to root for. She's such a winsome character and so well crafted that she leaps off the page. I could easily see both this story and this character in a movie on Netflix. Her story arc is going to be relatable to so many people. It's a coming of age story with Liz finding her voice and discovering things about herself along the way.

The romance is really sweet and filled with just the right amount of conflict and angst. It's woven into the plot effectively so that it feels integral to the story instead of an afterthought. It has those beats of a high school set romance but still feels fresh and exciting.

This book does tackle some more serious and important topic and does so with a lot of heart. It manages to deal with topics in a way that keeps the tone of the rest of the novel. It is part of the story rather than being the story. Things like family member illness, and grief are given the heft they need while still keeping the lighter tone of the story. Racism  and homophobia are also touched upon throughout the story. The biggest element though is Liz feeling like an outsider and learning to love herself. This is what is given the most weight and what makes the story as charming as it is.

This is a joyful read that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face. I would highly recommend reading it for anyone who loved Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda as reading this gave me many of the same feelings. It has a great message of self acceptance and being proud of who you are and is just the feel good read we could all use right now.

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