Genre: YA Contemporary, Mental Health
Publication Date: 24th September, 2019
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ & 1/2
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: Thank you to Atom for sending me a review copy of this book. This in no way effects my opinions or this review.
Who Put This Song On? is a fictional YA contemporary that’s based upon the author’s own experiences, which made it quite a unique read. It follows main character Morgan who is struggling with depression and anxiety, and gave an important perspective on the different ways in which mental illnesses affect people.
‘”How are your struggles different?”
“Well, I guess I think I must deserve it.”‘
Religious themes pop up a lot in this book, and it was insightful for me to see how religion affected Morgan’s mental illness and fuelled her negative thoughts. It was heartbreaking to see how Morgan’s depression was linked to her race due to the prejudices she faced – the ignorance of most of the characters in this book when it came to racism was just astounding. I know this book is based back in 2008, but it’s unsettling to realise I can still see such ignorance present today.
Prior to this book, I hadn’t read anything that talks about mental illness this way – I didn’t know much about how religion and race can be a major factor when it comes to someone suffering from depression, so I’m incredibly glad I read it. This is why books about mental illness are so important (books with any representation are so important) – there is no one way that a certain disorder affects those who have it, and books like this help reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
‘Isn’t it weird what gets trapped in your head like a splinter? The little voice you hear so long it sounds like yours?’
There were certain sections of this book that felt a bit rushed through, but I understand this was to keep the story moving. I would’ve liked to delve into certain aspects of Morgan’s life a bit more personally (such as more about her therapy sessions), but I found this wasn’t an issue towards the middle and end of the book. I enjoyed the writing style – it was easy to read and flowed really well.
This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be, but not in a bad way. It’s not an easy read because of the content, but there are important messages to be taken from it. I also wanted to mention I really appreciated the extra chapters at the end from the author – I enjoy reading acknowledgments anyway, but it was especially nice to read about the author herself since the book is based off her experiences.
Who Put This Song On? is an insightful read that explores navigating life when you’re struggling with mental illness, and is appropriate for older YA audiences.
‘We aren’t always our best selves. And even if we try to be, sometimes life is just too hard. But the thing is: we’re all still here.’
- Drug and alcohol use
- Sexual references / abuse attempt
- Suicidal thoughts, and talks about depression and anxiety