Books, Reactions

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (Week 1, Ch 5-11)

Today, I will be analyzing and reacting to chapters 5-11 of You Should See Me in A Crown, a young adult romance by Leah Johnson. This is the first lesbian romance I have ever read, and I was greatly pleased by it.

Warning: Spoilers Below!

The Week One section of this book starts with Liz Lighty’s profile on Campbell Confidential, showing that she is slowly gaining more followers and likes. I think that was a really smart way to demonstrate that right off the bat without explicitly explaining it.

Liz Lighty is determined, but she is not fully prepared for the campaign. She runs late to the orientation meeting, making a poor impression, despite the fact that Gabi has prepped her for what to expect.

Gabi’s last message to Liz before she enters orientation made me laugh, but for personal reasons having nothing to do with the story.

Don’t forget to show teeth when you smile, but show no fear.”

Gabi

See, the reason I laughed is because people always tell me some variation of this, because I blatantly refuse to smile with teeth. My parents thought I was embarrassed about my slightly crooked teeth and assumed that was why I didn’t smile with teeth, so I ended up with braces. But the braces have been off for several years now, and I still smile the same close-lipped slight smile when the camera is on me.

The reason is that I am incapable of faking a convincing smile. Any smile with teeth when I am not genuinely and naturally smiling looks like a terrible grimace. To avoid how overwhelmingly fake and displeased my smile with teeth looks, I just Mona Lisa it.

My first impression of Madame Simoné is that she is obsessed with other cultures. She puts on a convincing French accent even though she grew up in Campbell. She wears a kimono, which are traditionally Japanese.

Mack is introduced a moment later as she blusters in late. The fact that Mack likes Madame Simoné is a testament to Madame Simoné’s character.

The rules for the prom are terribly outdated and just plain wrong. There is no consideration for non-binary or trans individuals, and same-sex couples are not permitted to attend as dates. That frustrates me because it is true of many schools. I didn’t attend prom when I was in high school, but if I wanted to attend with a girl as my date, I hope my school would have been supportive.

Rachel Collins reveals herself as an asshole, voicing concerns that there may be “affirmative action” involved in the contest and looking straight at Liz. As if the only way that Liz could win would be in an affirmative action situation. Mack points out that the group that benefits the most from affirmative action is white women.

She shoots, she scores!

Mack says that both good and terrible people should not be allowed to get away with doing terrible things. I think that is pretty mature for a senior in high school. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to those who are doing wrong, especially if they are good people acting out of ignorance.

Mack becomes the new drummer for the band since Kevin Kilborn had gotten badly injured during a promposal where he did a backflip off his roof. Not only was he rejected, it was also livestreamed on Campbell Confidential. He never did come back.

This is another example of how toxic the environment of Campbell can be.

While Gabi and Liz and Britt are meeting about prom at Gabi’s house, Gabi’s parents are fighting upstairs. Even though this is a book, I can almost hear it. The girls trying to make plans, and trying to ignore the shouting. It’s cringeworthy.

When she gets home she has plenty of homework, but just falls asleep by mistake. I didn’t understand this as much in high school because I didn’t have a social life to distract me from constantly focusing on my academics. In college, however, when I developed friendships and deepened the couple of lukewarm friendships I already had, I ended up making a social life much higher on my list of priorities. And that wasn’t a bad thing at all. I got to have close friends and still got A’s, I just sometimes had to stay up late to finish homework. I even had two all-nighters in a row once, which is a story for another time.

All this to say that I too have fallen asleep when I had plenty of homework and studying left to complete.

The next chapter starts with saying that anxiety looks different for everyone, though there are some commonalities. That is a very good point that many people fail to acknowledge. For me, as a schizophrenic–yes, I have been diagnosed as such–my stress makes me hear voices more often and more intensely. Sometimes it even leads to visual hallucinations, though for me those are rarer than auditory ones. I get a constant fight-or-flight feeling as well as a pervasive fear that something terrible is going to happen.

For other people, anxiety looks much different. Three people I know have panic attacks. Others struggle to focus, pace, sweat, throw up, or start to cry. I hate when people say anxiety is unimportant or shouldn’t be taken seriously just because it is so common. Like, what the heck? It can be freakin’ debilitating, and even when it’s not, it’s a real pain in the ass.

I am so lucky to have a job where my coworkers are kind, my boss is supportive, and I can feel confident in my abilities. Where my successes are appreciated and my failures are considered learning opportunities. And having a wonderful support group of friends who know and sympathize with my struggles is even better. Those two great things, along with my prescribed meds, help me to curb the anxiety somewhat.

So yeah, anxiety is different for everyone. Please respect that.

The first time Liz does community service for the prom campaign, she is paired up with Jordan, that dude from earlier who apparently left her for his “cooler” friends. Lovely. She almost asks him about his MIA girlfriend Emme, but is not spiteful enough to hurt him on purpose.

We get the backstory of how Jordan pretended not to know Liz when he made new friends. Even though I haven’t had that exact scenario happen to me, I know what it’s like for a friend to replace me with cooler people. She never officially cut ties with me, but when she was with her new friends they pretty much ignored me. It sucked, and when I tried to make new friends, I ended up with some very toxic “friends” who were kind to me when no one was watching and then bullied me when they saw other people were watching. Kind of backward from what you would expect, but whatever.

I was so sad when Liz described how she had changed from Jordan rejecting her as a friend, wearing different clothes and a different hairstyle. And she said after that she knew where she was in the social hierarchy.

Crap, I wish that wasn’t super relatable. After being bullied in almost every sport I took part in, I changed. Since I developed the first schizophrenia symptoms when I was 12 or 13, after the bullying at swim team took place, my doctor suspects the bullying may be involved in how quickly my schizophrenia advanced. After swim team, the voices I started hearing began saying terrible things about me. But they also made me a promise. If I did what they said, bullies would never pick on me again.

I took their advice. I stopped sharing my opinions on anything. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. If someone insulted me, I agreed with them and then walked away. I didn’t initiate conversations. I never disagreed with anyone. With my family, I was a little less guarded, but that was the way I was socially.

Because I knew where I belonged in the social hierarchy. At the bottom.

But no worries, I’m FINE. Like I said, I have a good job now and a phenomenal support system.

Jordan apparently is one of those friends who really knew Liz, though. Enough that when he sees the signs of an incoming panic attack, he performs a ritual that calmed her in the past, a habit a counselor taught her. It’s so important to have friends that you can share your struggles with, even if it might feel embarrassing. I can understand why it hurt her so bad when such a close friend betrayed her.

And oh my gosh, the Avatar: The Last Airbender reference was great. Ill-timed and poorly worded, but finally, a reference I can understand. Uncle Iroh is a gem.

Liz gets paired up with Jordan a couple more times and it seems like there might be room for their relationship to improve.

At the end of Chapter 9, Liz mentions that she watches Robbie take his meds because when he starts to feel better, he gets cocky and doesn’t take them. I KNOW I can’t do the same thing, but I understand the urge to not take meds. It’s frustrating, taking meds when you are so young. I know, he’s younger than me. But I’m 23, and I take five kinds of meds for schizophrenia and other health problems. Two other meds I take only when necessary. I have one of those AM PM daily pill organizers because my memory is bad. I don’t believe anyone who is in their early twenties should have to deal with that, so I hate that many kids like Robbie have to take various meds just to have a normal level of health.

Ooh, the next chapter is lighter in mood. Mack and Liz. Liz teaching Mack the new music for band. Sweet. Mack has no filter to her words. With her, it seems to make her charming. With me, not so much. Sometimes I say things I don’t realize are ridiculous or mildly offensive. Many people say I talk too much. Mack is cool and fun though, even though she’s a bit talkative, and she has an attitude very unlike mine.

I like her immediately. It’s nice to have a book in which I like the main character and the potential love interest.

The Bake-Off event for the prom campaign is the focus of the next chapter. Baking has never been my specialty, but both Liz and Mack appear to give the competition a run for their money.

One of the contestants literally dips fingers into the food she is making repeatedly and licks them. Ew ew ew ew ew. That would never fly in a normal baking competition. She wants to stick her finger in Liz’s dish, but she is flatly told no. Thank goodness.

Rachel comes over to insinuate that if they were not filmed baking, she suspects Liz would have cheated and bought a gourmet dish. She says that she will be prom queen and Liz will be forgotten. Joke’s on her. Liz is not doing this to be remembered by crappy Campbell County, she is doing it for the scholarship money to get the heck out of there and start her life at college.

Even Rachel’s friends don’t like her much–Quinn, a person Rachel trusts, reassures Liz after Rachel is a jerk. I don’t know why attractive bullies gain friends so easily, but Rachel definitely fits into that category.

Liz is in denial that she is falling for Mack already, but it is so blatantly obvious, almost as obvious as the main couple in Yuri on Ice.

Then a food fight starts, and is almost as good as the one in RWBY. One of the guys literally calls another guy “sentient belly button crust.” That made me crack up. It wins in the creativity department, but it is too hard to take seriously. When I was much younger, I used to criticize bullies who called me un-creative names. “Like ‘four-eyes,’ honestly? Can’t you do better? Take a page out of Shakespeare’s book!”

My favorite part had to be when Madame Simoné starts shouting at them and drops the faux French accent. Mostly because it is fun to see a character who tries so hard to maintain an air of refinement losing her shit.

That’s the end of Week 1 (Ch 5-11), and I can already say with absolute confidence that I would never in a million years even consider running for prom queen. You go Liz Lighty!

Links

Buy the book

Author website

If you enjoy my content, subscribe to my newsletter!

Liked it? Take a second to support P. A. Wilson on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.