You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Copyright Date: 2021
Reading Age: 12-18
Reading Level: Grades 7-12
Awards: Stonewall Book Award, Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Liz has big plans for college. She wants to attend Pennington College, an elite university that will get her out of her small town as well as give her the opportunity to be a part of their orchestra and become a doctor. Then her financial aid falls through. Liz's high school offers a scholarship to the prom king and queen. Can she rise above her fear of the spotlight to give it a shot? And then there's the issue with her competition—the new girl, Mack is the first person she has ever been interested in. Can Liz have love and success?
While this is a story of a main character of intersectionality—she is Black lesbian living in a small town in Indiana—this story is at its heart a celebration of Black joy and finding love. The premise of a high school girl running for prom queen may seem shallow on its surface, but this is a tale of a teen who lost her mother when she was young, lives with her grandparents who don't have a great deal of money but want to make sure their grandchildren have access to the privileges the richer kids in the community have access to. There is depth and realness in the narrative of You Should See Me In a Crown. Liz has ambitions, but she also has a lot of fear. After a life of dealing with the casual—and not so casual—racism in her mostly white town, it is no surprise that Liz is not completely out at school and is concerned about how being out might risk her chances of winning prom queen and gaining the scholarship she desperately needs in order to attend her college of choice, the one her mother went to. The story of Liz falling for Mac is sweet and glorious, full of the sparkly descriptions that encapsulate the feelings of falling in love. Mac sees Liz for who she really is, and that is an important thing for Liz to experience since she has lived in an environment where she has been afraid to be seen. She is even in band but is terrified of being the center of attention. As Liz begins to see her qualities through Mac's eyes and starts to accept herself for who she really is, readers follow along on the same journey, experiencing the importance of self-acceptance.
Liz and Mack are both running for prom queen, an award with scholarship opportunities as well as a crown. Will falling for the competition mean Liz won't be able to pursue her college dreams?
About the Author
Leah Johnson was born and raised in central Indiana—a tried and true, lifelong Hoosier (and as you can perhaps imagine, much of her work now features more cornfields and soybeans than any one human has business writing about). She began her writing career with a spiral notebook full of short stories in Mrs. Peacock's fifth-grade class and could never quite bring herself to stop. That love of storytelling eventually carried her to Sarah Lawrence College for her MFA in fiction writing, and to Brooklyn to live amongst every other struggling writer.
Leah’s bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was the inaugural Reese's Book Club YA pick, a Stonewall Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten selection, and was named one of Cosmopolitan's 15 Best Young Adult Books of 2020. Kirkus called Crown “[A] pitch-perfect rom-com… the queer prom romance you didn’t know you needed," and her mom called it “A real book!” It was featured on a number of Best of the Year lists including: Cosmopolitan, Amazon, Kirkus, Marie Claire, Publishers Weekly, and New York Public Library. The first installment of her debut middle grade series, Ellie Engle Saves Herself was sold in an eleven-house, seven-figure auction to Disney-Hyperion, and is slated for publication in spring 2023.
In 2020, Leah was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, and her debut novel named an Indies Introduce pick by the American Booksellers Association. In 2021, USA Today listed Leah as one of 50 Must-Read Black YA Writers, and TIME named You Should See Me in a Crown one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time. Leah is a Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow whose work has been published or is forthcoming in BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar among others. When she’s not writing or ranting about pop culture and politics on Twitter, Leah is a professor of creative writing and composition. (About the author and image found here.)
Talk about the expectations of prom. It is seen as a rite of passage. Do you agree?
Growing up in a small town, especially one that might not be very diverse, can be a challenge. Speak to the differences between growing up in a city vs. a small town.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+
Challenge Issue Resources:
Nevada County Library Selection Policy
Selection of materials is based upon a number of criteria that include:
The Library selects materials in accordance with the guidelines stated by the American Library Association in its Library Bill of Rights, and Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statements.
The Library supports diversity of expression and views in its collection in an attempt to provide patrons with a foundation for making informed decisions and formulating personal opinions. The Library does not exclude items because of the race, nationality, social, political, or religious views of the authors. The presence of controversial materials in the collection does not represent the Library’s endorsement of the opinions expressed therein. Although some materials selected may contain language and/or illustrations that may be offensive to some patrons, the Library cannot undertake the task of pleasing all individuals by censoring such items.
Active Listening Skills
Staff should listen calmly to the patron’s concerns without judgement or commentary. They should acknowledge the public’s right to challenge materials and help the patron find an alternative item that will fit their needs.
Nevada County Library Reconsideration form
Any citizen may challenge materials. If the citizen chooses to submit a written Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, Library staff will collect reviews and accumulate data on how the material conforms to the selection policy. An ad hoc review committee consisting of the Library Director, Branch Manager, one other librarian, and a citizen appointed at the discretion of the Library Director will review the material, judge whether it conforms to the Selection Policy and submit its report in writing to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Concerned parties will be notified of the final decision in writing.
ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
This is a book that celebrates Black joy, something that teens should get to experience as well as reading about challenges. The writing is sharp and romantic, reflecting the tone of the story in a lovely way. It is also a queer prom romance—something that will appeal to a variety of teen readers.