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

Title: You Should See Me in a Crown

Author: Leah Johnson

Pub. Date: June 2nd 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 301 Pages



Liz Lighty has outgrown her small town life in Indiana, a place she has never felt she has quite fit in. Liz is a queer black teen who lives with her grandparents & brother who has sickle cell disease. She is poor and unwilling to conform to fit in with the wealthy white students attending her high school. Liz also has a dream to attend the super elite Pennington College, get accepted to play in their orchestra & pave the way towards becoming a doctor. Things start looking bleak when she doesn’t get the financial aid she was counting on. The High School she attends has traditionally awarded the Prom King & Queen a scholarship & Liz focuses on making this happen for herself. Along the way she encounters micro-aggressions & straight out racist remarks from the schools resident mean girl. While Liz is dealing with competitive cattiness, homophobia, and constant reminders of how she doesn’t belong…there’s also a strong presence of those that believe she absolutely belongs & are cheering her on. We see a second chance friendship develop & Liz fall for the new girl in school who is unapologetically living her truth. The romance does not take center stage however it does play a part in Liz fighting back & not allowing anyone to dim her shine. This is a story about family & friends, realizing you are loved and supported even when you feel invisible. It’s about forgiveness & girls coming together to uplift rather than give into bullies & mean girl tactics. So much gets covered in this sweet but also very serious book I wasn’t expecting to love but easily became a book I’ll never want to forget.

Content Warning: Panic attack, anxiety, death of a parent (off page), racism, homophobia, outing, chronically ill loved one 

Privilege comes to mind whenever I think of the kids Liz sat in the classroom with or when she was met with a school official who looked down upon her. She doesn’t fit the mold & doesn’t come from one of their well known/accepted wealthy families. All odds are stacked against her & yet she doesn’t let that discourage her from the end game & that’s a chance at a higher education. Something that many take for granted, she learns early on isn’t a privilege she’s been granted. I admired Liz for keeping her head in the game, focused on the stakes. This isn’t easy for Liz who suffers from anxiety disorder & also has to hide the fact that she’s a lesbian. She misses the friendship she had with her BFF Jordan & questions his motives for wanting to reconnect. There’s conflict all throughout this story based on past hurts but those were resolved on page which made for a better story in the end. I loved seeing Liz’s home life & what also serves as motivation for her. She’s deeply grateful for her grandparents & has a really solid relationship with her brother who suffers from sickle cell disease which is the same illness her late mother suffered from. I was moved by the strength in Liz who persevered against all odds & was left with hope seeing her friends rise up for her. I personally cannot wait to read more by Leah Johnson in what I’m hoping is the near future *fingers crossed* 


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"I didn't choose the Book Life, the Book Life chose me"

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