Today, I will be analyzing and reacting to chapters 22-27 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 greatly enjoyed it.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
This section includes Week 3 of the prom campaign. The chapter starts with “Necessity is the mother of resistance.” I think that is interesting since the well-known saying is “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I wonder if the resistance is because Liz and Mack are a queer couple in the largely conservative Campbell County, or if because less popular girls like Liz rarely run for prom queen.
Rachel is trying to smooth over her misstep from hurting Liz in the powder-puff by passing out hot pink footballs with the words CONSENT IS SEXY on them. Um, this coming from the total jerk, racist Rachel doesn’t mean much. It is obviously just meant to grab attention. And why is it written on footballs, anyway? As far as I know, footballs have nothing to do with consent.
Rachel also replaced her giant poster in the Commons with one of her holding puppies. That’s laughable. Look, these puppies are cute, so vote for me!
Gabi wants Liz to be seen with Jordan more often, which is uncomfortable because of their complicated past but also because Liz has a girlfriend now so it’s weird to make everyone think she and Jordan have some sort of budding relationship.
Jordan has discovered that Liz is dating Mack and Liz freaks out and literally punches him. Well, my reaction to things that startle me is to punch too, so I guess I can’t judge.
Rachel warns Jordan not to hang out with Liz anymore, and he is understandably annoyed. Rachel has literally no redeeming qualities that are shown in this book so far, but some people in life do seem that way.
Liz admits that the whole prom is meant to evoke a fairy tale. The ones who become king and queen are supposed to be the best Campbell has to offer, but instead it is a popularity contest where the wealthy and well-established are given a massive leg up.
This kind of reminds me of something that happened at my college. One of my friends once entered a baking contest, and was frustrated to discover that the whole competition was basically a popularity contest. They were judged based on how much of the dessert they sold, but the competitors who were in a sorority had their entire sorority buy tons of it. I was pissed because my friend was great at baking and would have had a good chance of winning if it was not merely based on the size of one’s social circle.
Liz has an idea to win despite the skewed fairy tale, though. But because Leah Johnson wants to up the suspense, we don’t get to hear about it yet.
Mack wishes they could be alone more often since Liz cannot be out as lesbian in public–at least not without endangering her chance at prom queen. I came out recently and I know people can be weird or downright rude about it. And not everyone would be supportive for sure if Liz made it publicly known that she had a girlfriend. I have a girlfriend myself now, and many people I’ve told prefer to think she is just a normal friend, or try to avoid talking about the situation entirely. It feels like everyone is disappointed in me just for being myself and dating a girl. Most of them don’t even want to get to know her, and they don’t seem to care how happy she is making me. I can’t help but feel that the whole situation would be treated differently if I was dating a guy.
Soon they get another cute scene, this time in Mack’s car out of sight from prying eyes. They ask each other questions and hold hands and kiss. Mack always makes sure there is consent and she is not just forcing unwanted contact on Liz, and I have to admit that Rachel was right about one thing–consent is sexy.
Liz makes her move and invites Mack to go to prom with her. I never went to prom and never wanted to, honestly. But it’s cute, really cute.
Gabi makes it even more clear that she wants it to look like Liz and Jordan are dating–she even tells Liz to rekindle the crush Jordan felt toward her. I don’t even have to tell you how wrong that is. Liz is dating someone else. Jordan and Liz are friends at best. Jordan has an estranged girlfriend he is hoping will come back. Gabi’s whole idea reeks of attention-seeking behavior.
I don’t like Gabi. I really don’t. And her next actions make it worse, when she demands what Mack’s intentions are with Liz and is incredibly rude. She doesn’t apologize, and Liz uses their past friendship as an excuse not to judge Gabi.
Liz goes to Mack’s house to apologize for not telling her friends about their relationship, and Mack’s dad is enthusiastic when meeting her. I wish my dad would be that enthusiastic if I brought over my girlfriend. They make up and Mack says she dropped out of the prom campaign because she got what she came for. Liz. Omg that’s cute.
And then Liz doesn’t tell her about the scholarship or anything and why she must stay in the race, and I am like…this is foreboding. I see, the miscommunication/lack of communication trope.
The next night she attends Jordan’s party. Jordan opens the door and is apparently shirtless. Personally, I don’t really understand attractiveness and why abs are “sexy”, but Liz says he is really attractive and I guess I’ll take her word for it.
Liz enjoys her newfound popularity despite her anxieties, but is distracted when she sees Mack talking to another girl. Even though Mack is pretending not to be Liz’s girlfriend, it still bothers Liz. She voices her annoyance and things go south quickly. From a reader’s point of view, Liz is definitely in the wrong. She told Mack not to interact much with her, then gets mad when Mack doesn’t interact with her at a party. Liz gets jealous of Mack for talking to Kam, while Liz is talking to Jordan, the guy everyone at Campbell seems to ship her with.
Then Liz screws up big time. She admits that if they were seen together as girlfriends, she’d have no chance at winning prom queen. Crap. That looks really bad Liz, especially since you didn’t tell her about the scholarship. It just seems like you value your popularity over your relationships with people.
Liz starts to have a panic attack after Mack flat-out says she knows who Liz is now and is no longer interested in her. When Jordan checks on her, she pukes on his hoodie. This would be social suicide at Campbell if anyone else saw, but it seems like no one else is anywhere near. And then she literally passes out.
When she wakes up, she’s in clean clothes and in Jordan’s bedroom. I think I would panic if I was brought to a guy’s room while unconscious and woke up in different clothes. Yikes. Not the best of situations. Maybe that’s because most of my guy friends I either haven’t known very long or aren’t very close with.
Jordan takes Liz to a Steak ‘n Shake. I think it is safe to say that he is coming closer to the good friend zone after their long separation. Liz explains what happened with Mack and asks about Emme, Jordan’s missing girlfriend. He says that her secrets aren’t his to tell. And that makes me really, really appreciate him. When I had a boyfriend, he promised not to tell anyone about my schizophrenia without my permission. Then he told his mother about it without asking. I wasn’t mad, but I certainly trusted him a whole lot less after that. I’m more open about my mental illness now, but back then I had been trying to hide it from all but close friends and immediate family. Jordan knows when it is none of his business to share secrets, even with a close childhood friend.
Liz says she will miss Jordan when he goes back to his people and she goes back to hers after prom. He says it doesn’t have to be that way and mentions that she never responded to his apology letter.
Liz didn’t get his letter, because Gabi, who gave off bad vibes from almost the very beginning, never passed it on to her. To make matters worse, Gabi started a hashtag calling Liz “Replacement Emme” and making Jordan and Liz’s relationship seem romantic. If it were me, this would have been the point of no return for Gabi. I may have forgiven her, but I never would have trusted her again, and she would have been relegated to the same status as a casual acquaintance. No more best friend privileges for her. She’s like a surprise villain. We thought Rachel was the main antagonist, but Gabi broke a childhood friendship, mistreated Liz’s partner, and tried to force Jordan and Liz into a relationship to increase Liz’s popularity.
Liz confronts Gabi and puts her in her place pretty well. She has learned to say enough is enough. And that’s good. If only she hadn’t screwed up so abysmally with Mack, things would have better and maybe she could have gotten over her best friend’s betrayal and moved on. Not forgiven her right away, because Gabi needs to give Liz some space, but if Mack was still around Liz maybe could’ve let Gabi go without as much heartbreak. Poor Liz.
This section was a rollercoaster of emotions, of elation and heartbreak and pain. It is well-written, showing how Liz dug her own grave and so did Gabi. Looking forward to analyzing the rest of the book.
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