Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
This is a book that stars a queer Black girl. That was enough for me to put it on my list. Then, a couple of my friends read and absolutely adored it and I saw so much love for it online, that it shot to the top of my list of books to read. Trigger warnings: racism, homophobia, anxiety, death of a loved one, chronically ill loved one, outing, panic attacks
Oh wow, this book was so good. Everything good thing I have seen said about this book is 100% true. It’s just solid goodness in book form.
One of the things I loved most about this book (though I’m pretty sure the whole thing is the thing I loved most about it haha), was how it blended cheesy and touching and awkward and happy all together into one amazing thing. I don’t want to call this book cheesy, because that feels like it cheapens it. But it gave me the same kind of warm, fuzzy feelings that best kind of cheesy books and movies gave me. It’s warm and fluffy and important and serious and it does all of those things at the same time. It never felt like any of those things were battling for attention or overshadowing each other. They might not seem like they work together, but they worked together so well here.
Another thing I loved about this book was the queerness. It was complicated. This book takes place in a small town in Indiana. People aren’t completely accepting here. Liz struggles with her sexuality, but there is also the best kind of happy queer moments. Liz kissing a girl, Liz flirting with a girl, Liz developing a crush on a girl. Just, the complicated and confusing feelings of being queer, but also the happiness that comes with being queer too. It’s all there and I loved every part of it.
Liz also deals with anxiety and wow does her’s present itself similar to mine. I totally get the nausea, the even the littlest things throwing her off, the stomach tightening. I just really, really loved that this talked about anxiety and that it showed how Liz dealt with it. It showed her coping mechanisms and it showed how she sometimes struggles with it. I just really, really loved reading that.
There were also amazing friendships and amazing familial relationships. They were sometimes complicated and they were sometimes painful. But, they were also full of love. And sometimes things are complicated with people you love, but you still love them. Really, I loved all of Liz’s relationships. Her friendship with Gabi, Stone, Jordan, and Britt, her relationship with her brother and grandparents, and her romantic relationship. All of them were done so well.
Music in books is always hit or miss for me. I am very happy to say that this book was a very big hit for me. It just felt, good and right. I know that isn’t a very good description, but it felt comforting is the best way I can explain it.
This book also deals with race and racism, but I can only comment that it was there.
Really, the entirety of this book was done so well. The writing, the characters, the plot, the music, the prom, the crowns, the signs, the fairy tale sign. Yes, I am just listing things that I loved about this book now haha.
Alright, to keep from saying “really” more than I already have, I’m going to wrap this up. This book deserves all the praise. Liz Lightly deserves everything. This book deserves a crown. It made me cry and it made me want to hug it and plaster a poster of the cover all over my walls. It’s just so good.