You Should See Me in a Crown Sea by Leah Johnson
Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
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?Goodreads
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So first, let me say that in my high school, prom queen was not a big deal at all, so I had a hard time getting into the story. After I suspended my prom reality, I enjoyed You Should See Me in a Crown.
At its heart, this book is about being yourself. Liz is not only one of the only Black students, but she is also into girls, something Liz keeps hidden. Her small Indiana town is not exactly the most open-minded. I liked the reason that Liz decides to run for prom queen; honestly, anything else would not have been believable. I enjoyed watching Liz navigate the competition, reconnect with old friends, and meet a girl she is interested in. Which, of course, adds a significant complication since Liz isn’t exactly out yet. I liked Liz, she knew what she wanted, and she was trying to make that happen. I have to respect her hustle. She was also a good person. I enjoyed most of the side characters; Jordan and Robby were my favorites.
The one storyline I didn’t love was the Gabby storyline. I won’t go into too much detail, but I just was not a fan of that whole thing, nor was it resolved appropriately. Also, their prom was freaking crazy! Like seriously, they get gift bags; what is this?
Overall this is an excellent book about a girl coming into her own. I definitely recommend this one.