Who Put This Song On? is full of songs, self-discovery, and courage. Morgan struggles with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, but Who Put This Song On? isn’t only about her mental health.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Morgan’s story in Who Put This Song On? tackles issues of racism, the stress of being the token POC in the room, and feeling like you can never just exist – forever stuck between being ‘not black’ and yet at the same time unable to forget her identity. Her story is humorous and genuine, while not minimizing the struggles of finding the right medication and her family’s reactions to her mental health.
Who Put This Song On? brought me back to riding in cars at night, making CD mixtapes, and passing notes. It brings up the shades of racism – from the subtle remarks all the way to police brutality. The struggles Morgan feels while feeling like the black historical figures can either be celebrated for their sainthood or suffering. How telling it is when you’re asked what you would do if you went back in time and your answer is that you would be a slave – or not allowed through Ellis Island (in my case). (Which reminded me of Kindred by Octavia Butler a total must read!)
Gaps in American history which does not acknowledge those in between. All while balanced with Morgan sitting in silence with her feelings, her guilt for ‘exhausting’ her family, and her desire to be liked. Consistently switching between masks, Morgan is so relatable, her voice so vulnerable, authentic, and wanting. Who Put This Song On? is an honest portrayal of mental illness, talking to people about it, and trying to seek treatment. But it’s also a story about racism, the gaps in education, feeling like an Outsider, and our first crushes.