*Starred Review* Seventeen-year-old Morgan is struggling with depression, and her family just doesn't understand. When she tells her doctor that it sucks being alive sometimes, he thinks it's because she doesn't have a boyfriend, and even though she's in therapy following a failed suicide attempt, her mother thinks she just needs more Jesus. But when she meets David, he gets it. Within their new friend group, there is a traveling notebook where they record their thoughts, feelings, and affirmations for each other. In many ways, Parker's debut models what introspective teens may go through when questioning the world around them. Through this story based loosely on her own life, she takes readers on a journey of self-exploration, full of all the universal teenage angst and drama that surround school, identity, sex, rejection, and friendship. This is all layered into Morgan's coming-of-age realizations about her Blackness as she becomes interested in researching specific periods of her identity's history, hoping to understand how it—and she—fits into present-day America. When, thanks to a terrible teacher, she makes a huge scene at school, her actions may seem familiar to readers. This fresh read provides a positive and inclusive take on mental health and wellness and offers readers some tools to survive on their own. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
In this thoughtful novel set against the backdrop of the 2008 presidential election, Morgan Parker, 17, is a self-proclaimed "super-emo" kid living with anxiety and depression in Southern California. One of the only black kids at her conservative Christian school (a "high school inside a church inside a PacSun"), Morgan regularly experiences racist microaggressions from her teachers and peers, who comment on the music she listens to and the clothes she wears, and how "white" she acts. After a devastating event the previous summer landed her in therapy and on antidepressants, Morgan is determined to "get happy" and learn to love her "intense, ridiculous, passionate, and sometimes hilarious" self and her blackness, whatever it takes. When the election and a project for history class show Morgan how much she doesn't know about black history, she decides to educate herself and her classmates on what it means to be black in America. Drawing on her own teen experiences, Parker (There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé for adults) adroitly touches upon matters of respectability and "presentableness," stigmas against discussing mental health issues in the black community and among young adults, and internalized and societal racism. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old African American teen Morgan lives in the California suburbs and attends a private evangelical Christian high school. Her race makes her stand out in this very homogenous space. She is really into music and sees events in her life through that lens. Her music and clothing choices cause her to be seen as "not really black" by her peers, even though she very much sees herself that way, experiencing common microaggressions in her everyday school life and beyond. She has developed a close crew of outcast friends, but the one thing she isn't comfortable telling them about is her suicide attempt over the summer. Medication is now making her life much easier. This title is based on the lived experiences of the author, a poet, which lends a poignant truth to the narrative. In spite of this, the representation of a suburban African American teen in these specific "outsider" circumstances is needed. In addition, this title will serve to open up conversations about black girls and mental health. VERDICT A worthwhile purchase for any collection where teen contemporary realistic fiction is popular. Give to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X.—Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
"17-year-old Morgan is a black teen triumphantly figuring out her identity when her conservative town deems depression as a lack of faith, and blackness as something to be politely ignored"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
"Unflinchingly irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny, and heartbreakingly honest." &;Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X
In the vein of powerful reads like The Hate U Give and The Poet X, comes poet Morgan Parker's pitch-perfect novel about a black teenage girl searching for her identity when the world around her views her depression as a lack of faith and blackness as something to be politely ignored.
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?
Loosely based on her own teenage life and diaries, this incredible debut by award-winning poet Morgan Parker will make readers stand up and cheer for a girl brave enough to live life on her own terms--and for themselves.
"Morgan Parker put THIS song on--and I hope it never turns off." &;Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out
&;A triumphant first impression in the YA space.&; &;Entertainment Weekly
&;An incredibly heartfelt, deep story about a girl's coming of age.&; &;Refinery29
- (Random House, Inc.)