Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Liz Lighty is happy in the background, not keen on being the centre of attention. She wants nothing more than to go to Pennington and become a doctor, but she needs to make it into their orchestra and gain a scholarship to do so. But when she gets notified her audition didn’t get her into the orchestra, she has to find another way. Luckily, the race for Prom Queen is about to start, and the prize – a scholarship. Liz has to put herself into the spotlight, fighting against her anxiety and desire to hide, and navigate the world of prom, social media, and community events to get the crown she deserves. Luckily, the new girl is also running, and though it may not be a good idea to fall for the competition, Mack is too endearing to resist.
You Should See Me in a Crown is a beautiful, wonderful, joyful experience. Liz just wants to go to university, but has to really push herself to get into that position. Liz has to battle against more than most people to really achieve her dreams, dealing with a brother sick with sickle cell anemia, her anxiety, and her sexuality.
Liz’s voice is strong and engaging, and it’s very easy to connect to her. Her social awkwardness is endearing, but she does everything she can to get what she wants. There are some moments here that really made me laugh, a few that made me tear up, and others that made me smile so damn wide. Oh, also – total happy tears.
Liz and Mack are freaking adorable. Liz’s friendships are beautiful, and even the most minor of characters are really rounded. Through the race to become queen, Liz learns more about herself, her strengths, and the other students at the school, including those she’s competing against.
The book itself is wonderfully written, carrying the reader through as we’re introduced to numerous characters, but each with their own distinctive features. Liz’s main competition is the current Queen Bee of the school, and it would have been easy to have her friends pitted against Liz’s, but instead of going down that route, Johnson creates a cast of characters who are actually decent people, not interested in petty drama and bickering – for the most part. It makes the story more realistic, and means the underlying tension is drawn out in more imaginative ways.
You Should See Me in a Crown is a wonderfully brilliant book full of joy, making the reader feel all the things a good book should make them feel. It’s a welcome addition to YA Contemporary fiction, and one which deserves all the stars and support it could possibly get.
You can find out more about the author here.