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?
I absolutely loved You Should See Me in a Crown. This might make me sound old, but YA has come so far so quickly. I may be crediting the genre overmuch because of how profoundly good this book was, but it deserves it. It rings true with new social norms, and it makes being progressive seem normal and regular – the way it should be.
Consent, mental health, sexuality, and race all rolled in together without being the central theme. High school, social media, and bullying all tackled with a healthy approach. Friendships and relationships being fluid but strong, bending without breaking. No right and wrong or pure good versus evil. Everyone contains multitudes and is a complex character with complex emotions and drives. And what’s even better is that the characters do their best to allow for others to be imperfect while being imperfect themselves. Forgiveness flows throughout the whole story, and people are allowed to make mistakes and learn and grow without being cut off or abandoned. People are allowed time to process their emotions and determine how they feel about a situation, and not everything has to be decided immediately.
It’s still YA and full of high school problems and drama, but it’s a high school of students of the new generation who don’t take things for granted and address their mental health and identity in a way that we all should. It felt so real, honest, and believable and nothing like my own experience and, I’m sure, the experience of others in my generation or the generations before mine.
I think it’s clear I loved this book – not just for the story but for how it made me feel and the experience I had while reading it. I’ve got to check out some more new YA and see if it lives up to the high standards this one has set.