ARC Review: Speak for Yourself by Lana Wood Johnson
Speak for Yourself by Lana Wood Johnson just released this week and I was so happy to be a part of her launch team and was able to read an ARC so today I am going to share my thoughts with you all! Go grab this one now for your Pride Month reads (or celebrate and read with Pride all year long!).
Speak for Yourselfby Lana Wood Johnson
Published by: Scholastic Press
on June 1, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, GLBTQIA+, Young Adult
Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy.
Girl gets friend to help win boy.
Friend ends up with crush on boy...
Skylar's got ambitious #goals. And if she wants them to come true, she has to get to work now. (At least she thinks so...) Step one in her epic plan is showing everyone that her latest app is brilliant. To do that, she's going to use it win State at the Scholastic Exposition, the nerdiest academic competition around.
First, she'll need a team, and Skylar's not always so good with people. But she'll do whatever it takes to put one together ... even if it means playing Cupid for her teammates Joey and Zane, at Joey's request. When things get off to an awkward start for them, Skylar finds herself stepping in to help Joey. Anything to keep her on the team. Only, Skylar seems to be making everything more complicated. Especially when she realizes she might be falling for Zane, which was not a #goal. Can Skylar figure out her feelings, prove her app's potential to the world, and win State without losing her friends--or is her path to greatness over before it begins?
If you’ve read Technically You Started It, you know Lana is uniquely able to convey personalities and stories through mixed media. Speak for Yourself takes this to the next level and combines the story with the media elements. The media aspect is a driver within the story and enhances the reader experience. I appreciate the modern elements and that Lana includes them in an authentic way.
Skylar is the perfect storm – ambitious (overly), caring (to her own detriment), and smart as can be. Of course, I loved and identified with her. Skylar is one of a large cast of characters – Lana does an amazing job of building out her support system of friends, parents, and other adults. Unlike many YA stories, Lana provides a refreshing take on Skylar’s parents and sibling, who are integral to the story. We get to know her friends/teammates through not only their shared competitions, but through a series of app messages.
If you were an honor’s kid or a debate kid or in any kind of knowledge-based competition, this book’s setting will appeal to you. The story and setting are intertwined, with the setting becoming a character in its own right. It’s the way we get to know the characters and the world they live in. For unfamiliar readers, Lana paints both the self-imposed pressure and the pressure of the future with just the right amount of urgency.
To say I loved this book is an understatement. I loved the relationships – romantic, friendship, and familial. I enjoyed the mixed-media format. I appreciated the flawed perfectionist that Skylar is, and the people she surrounds herself with. I look forward to Lana writing relatable characters and settings for the long haul!