You Should See Me In A Crown - Review
I received this book from Scholastic Press for the Hear Our Voices Book Tour. All reviews are my own.
You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson is the most ordinary black representation book I have ever read. This isn't a black character that stumbled into a magical realm from a different African country or a Caribbean island. No one is victims of poverty, slavery, drugs, or whatever stereotypical build that's typically paired with the black plight. YSSMIAC is a story of an average high school black teenager going through regular life, and in today's day in age, I appreciate that.
You Should See Me In a Crown details Liz Lighty and her quest to compete for a scholarship to the college of her dreams. The only problem is, the competition is grabbing for the crown of Prom King and Queen, and Liz is terrified of the spotlight. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events. Still, despite her fear, she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
I want to give this book a 3.5-star rating. Here's why: With the number of young adult books that I've read, this book honestly seems … YA. Like it was meant for middle-schoolers on their way to high school and need something to look forward to. It's an essential yet average book.
I like the representation Johnson presented in the main character. Lighty is a halfway out of the closet, queer black band nerd who has severe anxiety in a predominately white rich school. Johnson somehow was able to fit all of the first world problems into one person and make it work. What I didn't like is that the story was so.. modern. I get it's supposed to connect with this generation and their representations, but reading this particular book made me feel old. Since starting a book review blog, I've consumed more young adult books than I can ever remember reading when I was a teen. But with this one, I couldn't fully connect.
One of the main points that stuck out to me was the direction of the story. While Johnson made sure to include that Lighty was competing in this absurd Prom contest, it wasn't the narrative's primary goal. Johnson described Lighty as rebuilding impaired relationships with people that she thought was broken. The story was more about reconnecting and reevaluating her peers in a different light. She realizes that not everyone was against her.
My review results: this book wasn't written for me, and I'm okay with that. It's an average book that I feel the generation under me would find meaningful. It's a quick read that will have you rooting for Liz Lighty and her hurdles as she fights her way to the top to see her in a crown.
You Should See Me In a Crown is available everywhere now.