RELEASED: September 24, 2019
FORMAT: eBook [AD]
GENRE: YA Contemporary
GOODREADS RATING: 3.92
TRIGGERS: Panic attacks, use of alcohol and drugs, homophobia, racism, talk about suicidal thoughts and suicide, pregnancy scare, attempted sexual abuse (cut short but still..)
REPS: LGBTQIA+, anxiety, depression, African American, Christianity
Trapped in sunny, stifling, small-town suburbia, seventeen-year-old Morgan knows why she’s in therapy. She can’t count the number of times she’s been the only non-white person at the sleepover, been teased for her “weird” outfits, and been told she’s not “really” black. Also, she’s spent most of her summer crying in bed. So there’s that, too.
Lately, it feels like the whole world is listening to the same terrible track on repeat – and it’s telling them how to feel, who to vote for, what to believe. Morgan wonders, when can she turn this song off and begin living for herself?
Life may be a never-ending hamster wheel of agony, but Morgan finds her crew of fellow outcasts, blasts music like there’s no tomorrow, discovers what being black means to her, and finally puts her mental health first. She decides that, no matter what, she will always be intense, ridiculous, passionate, and sometimes hilarious. After all, darkness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Darkness is just real.
I fell in love with the synopsis of this story, simply because the mention of mental health, the struggles our main character is going through and.. well.. Can you imagine me not trying to request this book? No? Me neither! Which is, of course, why I did and then read it. Doh. Are you ready for my review?!
Once I got more into the story – more on the start of it later -, I liked Morgan more and more. She started feeling multidimensional and layered to me. Even though it took a while to get to that point, I really did like the character she became over time. I ended up seeing a character struggling with life and people, who was still able to function and have conversations as well. It showed that anxiety isn’t one thing or another but completely depends on all kinds of small things. The most normal thing to someone else might be the trigger to a panic attack for someone with anxiety.
I don’t think I ever saw anxiety represented that well in a book. Or maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong books? Any recommendations are more than welcome!
I decided to keep being alive, so I have to decide how to do it.
The entire story is set in 2008, when Obama was running for president. I actually loved seeing that woven through the story because – being Belgian – I’m really not close to all that. Seeing the impact it had on a small individual was.. meaningful? I honestly can’t think of a better word to describe it.
Since the story is loosely based on the author’s own life, I felt like I was able to look into the mind of someone actually living through the changes that were happening in America at that time.
If you read the triggers I mentioned at the start of this review, you’ll know there is a lot – a lot – happening in this book. Though to some it might seem like too much, I didn’t feel that way at all. It’s a dark story, yes, but sometimes you need a darker book in order to see some light in your own life. At least that’s what this book did for me. Among other things.
Part of why I’m so ashamed of my depression is that it feels bratty, uncalled-for, a privilege I haven’t earned.
But.. The start of the story? Wasn’t my cup of tea. I struggled because it’s mentioned too often how Morgan has depression. It made her seem like a flat character at first. Like I said, that changed after a while but I struggled reading at first because of it. To be clear: I don’t mean to sound bitchy in saying her depression was mentioned too often. It’s just that I want to feel her depression more than read about her having one – if you know what I mean?
Another small – and maybe to some stupid – thing I got annoyed by is how Morgan constantly says to be emo, says one of her friends is a wanna-be emo / a poser and.. I just cannot. Friends of mine were part of that scene once and there are so many different layers to being emo. It felt wrong how Morgan wanted to define what it had to mean to others.
Who Put This Song On? is a dark book. It’s hard to read at times and might not be for everyone. But I honestly do believe it’s worth reading if you’re interested in an African American girl’s view on how things were when Obama was running for president, while she struggled with depression and anxiety. All the layers woven into this story make for a worthy read for sure.
Can you recommend me more books with anxiety rep? Depression rep?
Any mental health rep, really?