Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

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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? 

Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Rating: Image result for 4 out of 5 stars

Link: Amazon/Book Depository/Goodreads

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My Review:

“And I know then what I’ve always known: Campbell is never going to make a space for me to fit. I’m going to have to demand it.” 

Holy shit. I’m still trying to draw words for this book, but all I know. The audiobook is superior from the physical format, and I’m not just saying that because audiobooks are a little easier to listen too right now. It just helps me do my schoolwork, so I’m not complaining.

The narrator was absolutely perfect for this book-and honestly I love how she brought Liz out. There was so many things I found so relatable through Liz and I probably cried multiple times. Liz is me through everything minus the curls (I’m jealous bc my hair is flat), and having Black skin (tho mine is only 2 or 3 shades lighter, but maybe I wouldn’t feel like an impostor claiming my Black side.)

Liz is first chair clarinet, and is applying to Pennington College, and in hopes to get the scholarship of theirs, in hopes to escape her small town. The fact that she is a musician, literally has anxiety especially surrounding her brother’s chronic illness and queer is basically me in a nutshell.

I’m a flute player, not a clarinet player but I did play bass clarinet for like 2 months. I love my flute, I love music and the fact that I’m bitter there’s no band this semester. But the anxiety rep which was really beautiful, and the fact that it surrounded her brother’s illness was mine that mirror’s my grandpa. And honestly, this is the only book where every part of me felt seen.

Can we just talk about the pop-culture references though? I love that there is a Hamilton reference (which is currently my favorite soundtrack currently!) and ATLA, along with hers, but hey, I love all these unique pop culture references especially since they are not common and I wish they were!

Proms are really not my thing though, but I never been to one yet, but honestly I love how Johnson explored how much a small town can get obsessed with it. And how Liz was very hesitant, but she worked so hard. And the challenges actually sound believable to be crowned prom queen.

There were so many topics that it covered, and I loved the way it was written. The topics that covered were so well.

The only complaint I really have is the outing part. It’s a topic I am really sensitive with it, because of some of the situations where I have been outed. I like how it was handled with care especially in this homophobic community. I’m just kinda tired with all the outing in books, and I wish it wasn’t like that.

This book was so good, and i really enjoyed the audiobook version of it! The narrator really brought Liz, and everything that happens to her and honestly, it even helped me love this book more! I fell in love with Liz quite a bit! This is one of the very few books where Liz covered every single aspect of myself and I loved it! It also nice seeing pop culture references in this book especially since some of it is really rare! I also love how unique this book is with prom queen and on a lot of other topics that was covered in this book!

TW: Challenges racism, queerphobia, and classism; loss of a parent, health anxiety and paranoia around chronically ill loved one; panic attacks, being outed, hospitalization, anxiety, panic attacks

Rep: Black queer MC with anxiety, sapphic LI, Black side character with sickle cell anemia, Black side character

Recommendable: Yes

  • Ownvoices
  • Black Queer Contemporary Story
  • Black Joy
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About the Author:


Bio: Leah Johnson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana—a tried and true, lifelong Hoosier (and as you can perhaps imagine, much of her work now features more cornfields and soybeans than any one human has business writing about). She began her writing career with a spiral notebook full of short stories in Mrs. Peacock’s fifth-grade class and could never quite bring herself to stop.

Leah is a 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow whose work has been published or is forthcoming in BuzzFeed, Autostraddle, Catapult, and Electric Literature among others. When she’s not writing or ranting about pop culture and politics on Twitter, Leah is a professor of creative writing and composition. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and was named one of Cosmo’s 15 Best Young Adult Books of 2020. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.


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What’s your favorite Black Queer story? Have you read this book? Want to read it? Tell me in the comments!

About the Blogger:


Lori is an advocate for all things diverse to help those who are in the margins. She loves reading, but music holds a dear place in her heart. She is a teenager in high school, a feminist, and is in the LGBTQ+ community. Uses she/her or they/them pronouns 🌈

You can find me on: Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads

4 thoughts on “Book Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson”

  1. I read this book earlier this year and it was amazing! I’m so happy that you’ve related to it the way you did though ❤ hopefully, there will be band next semester for you though!!


  2. I have wanted to read this book for so long!!! It looks so amazing! I think that now I’ll read the audiobook, because it sounds wonderful. Amazing review, Lori!!


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