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.
Scholastic Reading Counts
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. A worthwhile purchase for any collection where teen contemporary realistic fiction is popular. Give to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X.
Seventeen-year-old Morgan, navigating a diagnosis of clinical depression, is doing her best to be and feel like a “normal” teenager, but in her predominantly white, conservative community she sticks out like a sore thumb: she loves indie “emo music”; she has an eclectic, quirky fashion sense; and she’s Black. Though most teenagers struggle to feel understood, Morgan is particularly affected as her mental health issues reverberate through her relationships with family and peers. An especially rough depressive episode over the summer lands Morgan in therapy and brings her to the realization that not even her family knows how to support her in dealing with her illness. Parker’s story (loosely based on her own teen years) takes us through the realities of her protagonist’s life—her ambivalence toward her therapist; her medical doctor reducing her depression to “boy trouble”; her experiences of microaggressions at her Christian high school. This sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking story explores the topic of adolescent mental health in a fresh and truthful way.