“There’s no way to hide when you run for prom queen; there’s no way to fly under the radar when you want that title. And I’ve never been one to break front the ensemble to go solo.”
Well, if you haven’t heard of this sensational, trail-blazing, Reese’s YA Book Club select book by now. You’re beyond my help. I was so excited to be offered a spot in this blog tour by Hear Our Voices BT. I thought something like this would only be offered to black reader, which I fully understand, but the tour includes all kinds of queer people and that makes my heart soar. Please check out the rest of the tour stops!
So this book is about Liz Lighty who enjoys being a constant wallflower. Stays in the ensemble, keeps her head down, and accepts the fact that she’s just too black, poor, awkward, shy, and nervous to be anyone of importance in her tiny town. But the scholarship she was counting on doesn’t come and with no other way to pay for the college she is desperate to get into, she signs up to run for Prom Queen. A title that wins her enough money to go to study nursing without drowning her grandparents in debt. But winning isn’t so easy, and she’s going to bring out all her light to make herself shine.
You ever read a book that kind of just radiates good vibes? Like, you just feel a little happier reading. The jokes hit better because you’re in a good mood. The romance feels cuter and more adorable because you feel all mushy anyways? That is this book! It’s such a great feeling.
I personally thank the writing. I really loved Leah Johnson’s writing style. It’s not overly fancy or anything, but it’s fun and witty and keeps you going. I felt like I could really zoom through the book and that always makes the book feel that much better. Johnson also includes a great does of only top-notch pop culture references that really round out the characters. I mean- using A;TLA and a Zuko metaphor? Genius tier writing. Also, A Smart Home reference? From the Disney Channel Original Movie that actually had me freaked out? Perfection.
I also really like Liz Lighty’s character. I think I always understood her especially when her anxiety would pop in here and there. I found that really relatable. But I think I started to really like her much later in the book. Also the way Liz reacts to Mack basically short-circuiting all the time was super cute. That also went a long way to make Liz the great character she is.
I also love Mack, but a little less maybe. Partly because I didn’t get a chance to know Mack as well, not being a P.O.V character. But I still loved reading all the ramblings. Those scenes of them talking were so wonderful and heart-warming. It’s very special to find a book where girls just like other girls. I think books like these are the reasons we have blog tours like these and are the reason that bloggers and readers work so hard to spread word about books. The representation, not just having side characters in the background of a story, but real representation with protagonists front and center is so so so important. We are protagonists.
The representation is also a form of communication, and thus, a form of unification for the community. It’s a message being sent out to young queer teens saying that however you feel is okay. Please feel everything you’re feeling even if you don’t get it yet, because there is a community of people in the world who want to help you figure it out and help every step along the way. A book that says that high school is some of the suckiest times in your life. And sometimes, it’s not just bullies that upset you, it can also be your friends. The book wants to go into depth about how queer people feel about their experiences when no one else is looking. The book manages to be really introspective in this way amongst all the fun and antics.
Anyways, before I get too sentimental about this book. I just want to say that prom queen stories have been done before, sure. But this book really puts a unique spin on it. Makes it a whole competition plot (which I seem to be reading a lot) and makes it exciting. Strategies, polls, intimidation and sabotage are always more exciting than they have any right to be.
TL;DR: Books like these lift your heart and give love to the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community. I highly recommend this book for its sincerity, hilarity, and of course the shine of a plastic prom crown on the line.
Finished copy provided by Hear Our Voices BT and Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.