Books, Reactions

You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson (Week 2, Ch 12-21)

Today, I will be analyzing and reacting to chapters 12-21 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!

This section covers Week 2 of the prom campaign, and the first page depicts Mack’s profile on Campbell Confidential. It shows that she is gaining in popularity even though her style and actions are outside the conservative norm of Campbell County.

When Liz gets to school, she is appalled by the enormous poster of Rachel that decorates a wall in the Commons. I never understood why just putting someone’s picture up would make people vote for them. I know, advertising helps, but with a boring caption like “Collins for Court,” what is the point? I never have voted for anyone for anything based on their appearance or merely on their pervasive public image. I always do my research. And while I came to a different voting conclusion when I was a Catholic then I would now, that doesn’t change the fact that seeing someone’s face plastered in posters everywhere in no way makes me want to vote for them.

Interestingly, Derek and some other students were removed from the race for prom king and queen because of their involvement in the food fight. Liz seems surprised that this happened. It does seem like the school would normally be willing to turn a blind eye to unruly behavior if it is by one of Campbell’s favorites.

Liz’s pound cake beats all the desserts that were not destroyed in the food fight, easily. Her competition might be more popular, but Liz has the pure skill to become a real contender. Girls who are less popular like Melly are thrilled that Liz is running, because she is considered one of them.

As a result of the bake-off, Liz goes up 5 spaces in the rankings. No one is celebrating yet, however. After all, Liz has to come off on top to get the scholarship. Still, I feel like little victories should be celebrated. I recently celebrated a year anniversary working as a Customer Service Rep. A small thing, to be sure, but it is special to me. And I feel like celebrating small successes is one of the keys to enjoying life.

Liz is wearing fancy clothes to try to help her rankings as well, instead of the vintage tees she usually likes to wear. So she does not feel like herself. I totally get that. I hate fancy clothes. I would much rather wear graphic anime tees then a blouse any day. And I almost exclusively wear sweatpants or leggings.

Gabi doesn’t approve of Mack. To me, that’s a red flag for Gabi because Mack is super sweet and I am already rooting for her. Apparently there are rumors about Mack, that she’s queer. Red flag number two for Gabi. She shouldn’t tell Liz not to hang out with Mack just because Mack might be queer, regardless of how the publicity might affect Liz’s chances at prom queen.

Getting Liz’s coming out story when she came out to her grandparents was interesting. They are so accepting, even asking if they should stop going to Chick-Fil-A to support her. (Chick-Fil-A has a famously anti-LGBTQ+ stance. Probably why it has such a good relationship with the Christian college I attended. I’m only half kidding.)

I’m never going to be the type of person who makes sense to other people.

Liz

I really feel this quote. I have always felt like I could not be understood. As an agnostic, schizophrenic, biromantic asexual, I don’t exactly fit into the “normal” category. People frequently pretend to understand, but they really can’t get what it is like to be me. No wonder Liz is on the brink of tears.

We get another scene with Mack and Liz together volunteering, and this time Liz catches a glimpse of the stickers on Mack’s skateboard. I love love love stickers. My laptop is literally plastered with them.

Case in point:

(Can you can guess the shows and movies these stickers are from? Comment with which ones you recognize!)

The chemistry between Mack and Liz is adorable.

Later on, Liz has the horrible experience of receiving texts from her grandma that Robbie is showing signs of a crisis again. This doesn’t seem to happen all the time, but it happens enough for Liz to be in a frequent state of dread. The only thing I have experienced that is even remotely comparable is with friends who experience suicidal thoughts. I worry, on their worst days.

Robbie, Liz’s younger brother, has sickle cell anemia, a disease in which red blood cells in the body as shaped like sickles instead of circles. In You Should See Me in a Crown, these cells are described as moon-shaped. This is a little confusing unless you are somewhat familiar with the disease, since the moon’s shape is also round, though it does often appear in different phases such as the crescent. It may have been better to say the sickle cells look like a crescent moon, but this is just a minor observation.

I didn’t realize how much pain a person with sickle cell anemia would be in when those cells failed to circulate through the body. I really didn’t know much about the disease at all, other than the shape of the cells, which is literally in the name of the disease, making it easy to remember.

Jordan checks on Liz, and it’s sad because they still aren’t back to their old childhood relationship. He really seems to want to renew that. I can understand why they aren’t close friends, though. It’s hard to recover a friendship once it is lost.

When Gabi meets up with Liz to give her buttons for her campaign, Liz thinks it’s over the top. The buttons have Liz’s face on them. I would hate buttons that had my face on them. Yikes. I’ve never much liked pictures of myself. But it makes sense if you are running for prom queen.

Apparently Gabi’s number one fear is the robot band at Chuck E. Cheese, which is totally understandable–they are nightmare fuel. They honestly look like something out of Five Nights at Freddy’s.

The next chapter is Mack and Liz learning more about each other. Liz invites Mack to do community service with her in an area that won’t win them any points for the prom campaign. Bryant House is where they go, a day care. There they spend time with young children. Gabi was invited before, but after one of the kids finger painted her tote and the day ended in tears, she never came back.

Mack has a great time and fits in well there. The kids like her. One of the kids even points out the obvious, that Liz has a crush on Mack, but luckily for Liz she is the only one who hears that.

In the next chapter, Jordan gives Liz a ride to work, and they call a truce. Finally.

And now we are in the exact middle of prom campaign season, during the prom powder-puff football game. Liz is super nervous because this kind of physical, public event is exactly what scares her the most about running for prom queen.

Quinn hugs Liz from behind and Liz respectfully tells her she does not like physical affection much. I have done that a couple of times too. Not fully rejecting all physical affection, but rejecting it when it is not initiated or at least fully expected by me. It just makes me uncomfortable. When I had a boyfriend, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that at best hand holding and touching did not make me feel anything, and at worst it just made me uncomfortable. I thought I had to make sacrifices for him to like me. But with him I was never really myself. I admire Liz for setting boundaries.

Liz happens to be actually good at sports, despite her lack of experience, since she is pretty physically fit. She scores close to the beginning of the game. Good for her–I suck at sports.

Then that jerk Rachel Collins floors Liz with an illegal hit. Quinn annoys me immensely by grabbing Liz’s face, and then saying that Liz is fragile and that’s why she doesn’t like being touched. Liz decides to make this public spectacle work in her favor by having Jordan carry her off the court dramatically. Smart.

Bonus points for Liz since despite her injuries, she throws out an Oscar Wilde quote.

Mack treats Liz’s injuries and asks her out on a date. Yes yes yes! And Liz says yes, forgetting that she is not out as lesbian yet to most people and that she needs to focus on the campaign. They are even going to a Kittredge concert, which is a band they both adore. It’s perfect.

Liz tells Mack that only her best friends know she is queer. That is a definite lie since her family knows. I am already starting to be concerned. And when the previous chapter ended on such a high note! Mack thinks it is unsafe for Liz to be out, and Liz doesn’t correct her and explain that she really is only hiding it for the prom campaign. Yikes.

Mack gets Liz in to see the band since the bassist is her cousin, and she gets to meet her hero Teela Conrad. I don’t have any celebrity heroes, but I understand that this is the sort of thing that people are crazy happy about.

Mack asks before doing things like grabbing her hands, even though she didn’t do that earlier. That makes me feel like an extra piece of conversation was not recorded in these pages, where Liz explained to Mack how she feels about physical touch. She asks again before they kiss, an awkward affair that includes bumping teeth.

But it’s freakin’ adorable.

And just like that, they’re girlfriends.

This section is the highlight of the book so far. It was so adorable. I like an awkward and cute romance, even if I don’t want kissing or handholding in any relationship of mine. But that’s ok. I somewhat understand that other people are different, and that romances vastly different from one I would want can still be fun to read or watch.

That’s the end of Week 2 of this book. I will start working on my analysis of Week 3 shortly and publish it as soon as possible. Anime analyses are coming up too. Let me know as always in the comments if you have any suggestions.

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