You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Audiobook narration by Alaska Jackson
This book was all of the sweetness that my old, decrepit heart needed right now. I love, love, LOVE Liz Lighty, who is aptly named because she is all the light, all the time. A high school senior in the middle of a prom-obsessed town, Liz decides to pursue the title of prom queen because it comes with a monetary prize that she needs to bridge the financial gap to be able to go to her dream college. But a queer, black girl winning prom queen in her deeply white, cis het town? This is going to be a journey.
And while the high school I graduated from was not this nuts about prom (think high school football in Texas), this story did pull me right back into my high school days many decades ago. It brought back the memories of not fitting in, of not belonging to the right groups, not dressing the right way, not having the right friends. And it shredded my heart as I watched Liz go through all of this. I hate that this othering is some sort of inevitable rite of passage for so many kids. But Liz comes out stronger on the other end, as we all hope we will. I also want to commend the author for the authentic and sympathetic portrayal of the life of an anxiety warrior. Panic attacks are brutal, y’all.
I know that this book is centered around prom, but I really would have liked less prom drama and more focus on the relationships in Liz’s life: with her new girlfriend Mack, the rekindled friendship with bestie Jordan, and her grandparents (I see myself in the background napping with her grandfather). And that one friend who did Liz so dirty? She got off much too easy. I don’t think I could be as forgiving as Liz.
I listened to the audiobook of You Should See Me in a Crown, and it was delightful. Alaska Jackson did a fantastic job with the narration, and gave the character of Liz just the right spark.