When Liz doesn’t qualify for the scholarship she’s been working towards, she is crushed, it was her ticket out of town, where she feels too black, too awkward, too gay and too poor to truly be herself. Campbell, Indiana, has one thing it loves above all else… Prom. If she can somehow be crowned Queen she could win a scholarship and have the future she’s worked so hard for.
Feeling special in a town that doesn’t feel special at all is worth all sorts of madness.
You Should Me Me in a Crown has such a joyful cover and it sure did live up to it. Liz’s high school is prom obsessed, like the whole school works towards this one thing. There are rankings, community service and a recreation of a drink driving accident, complete with gory make-up and prom dresses. It’s a riot! They have their own social media app and Liz’s friends formulate an algorithm to work out where she stands in the rankings. She’s hardly the frontrunner, but slowly she starts to win people round by being herself.
Meanwhile, she meets the new girl in town and instantly crushes on her. Mack is also running for Prom Court but Liz can’t help but fall for her. The problem is, Liz isn’t out yet, and being queer could seriously harm her chances.
Liz might not be the biggest fan of the whole prom scene at the start, but I think she starts to fall for its magic too, at the same time that the rest of the kids come round to the idea that the King and Queen don’t need to be the usual suspects, from the usual families.
I liked that the majority of characters were good kids, so easily these books fall into tropes where it’s the protagonist against the world. Yes, there is one in particular who is mean and deserves to be the villain, but for the most part, it left me with warm fuzzy feelings for the whole thing.
I never needed this race or a hashtag or the king to be a queen. I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.
It’s also the first time I’ve read a novel with a character with sickle cell disease, a hereditary disease mostly affecting those with African ancestry. It’s something I remember learning about at school, but since then I have never really heard about it. I think it’s great that these things are included in books which are otherwise fun, as it raises awareness when we might not feel like a reading a book that focuses on illness. It is a serious condition, as highlighted by the early death of Liz’s mother, but is also manageable as shown through her brother.
Liz feels a lot of responsibility towards her brother and her grandparents, who have given up a lot to look after them. She doesn’t want to burden them with the cost of her education and she feels it’s her job to look after her brother. It’s a lot to shoulder at a time in her life when she should be having fun. As often with these stories, a lot could be solved by just being honest but overall I found it a fantastic, escapist read.
Popsugar Reading Challenge: 17. A book that has the same title as a song
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