Summary and book reviews of Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker

Who Put This Song On?

by Morgan Parker

Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker X
Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2021, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Book Summary

In the vein of powerful reads like The Hate U Give and Girl in Pieces, 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.

Susan

This is a story about Susan. Draped permanently on the back of Susan's chair is a sweater embroidered with birds—­that type of lady. She has this thing I hate, where she's just always medium, room temperature. Susan looks like a preschool teacher with no emotions. She smiles, she nods, but she almost never laughs or speaks. That might be the number one thing I hate about coming here. She won't even laugh at my jokes! I know that life with me is a ridiculous hamster wheel of agony, but I'm kind of hilarious, and I'm just trying to make this whole situation less awkward.

I'm the one who begged for my first session, but I was desperate, and it was almost my only choice. Now that I'm actually doing this, I hate it. I just want Susan to buy my usual pitch: I am okay. I am smart and good. I am regular, and I believe in God, and that means I am happy.

By the way, of course my therapist's name is Susan. It seems like everyone I meet, everyone telling me how to be, is a Susan.

I ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Who Put This Song On? is a blistering, aching portrait of adolescent depression and racial alienation with an unforgettable narrator who charms and even delivers laughs despite the pain she feels about being unavailingly different from everyone she knows. Parker’s first novel, following three fearless and highly praised poetry collections, should easily appeal to adult and teen readers alike...continued

Full Review (701 words).

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(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Who Put This Song On? is lovely, honest, wrenching and funny — a tribute to music, survival and the power of finding beautiful moments of 'temporary escape,' even if 'when I return, the world is always the dumb same.'

School Library Journal
[T]his 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.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Drawing on her own teen experiences, Parker 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.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Morgan's pain and passion electrify every page. Her life feels like a mess, but faced with racism, rejection, and everyday growing pains, her hope and determination still shine through. A funny, clever, wild ride of a story about growing up and breaking free.

Booklist (starred review)
This fresh read provides a positive and inclusive take on mental health and wellness and offers readers some tools to survive on their own.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X
Parker has rendered a brilliant debut of black girlhood and mental health, at turns unflinchingly irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny, and heartbreakingly honest.

Author Blurb Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out
It's rare to find a book that aptly balances the comedy and tragedy of being human. Morgan Parker put THIS song on—and I hope it never turns off.

Author Blurb Samantha Irby, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
As a weird, depressed, Radiohead-obsessed black post-teen myself, it's clear Morgan ripped my heart out and splattered it across the pages of this book. It's perfect.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Whitewashing Black Leaders

March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomIn Morgan Parker's debut YA novel Who Put This Song On?, the narrator (named after and loosely based on Parker herself) has a political awakening as she learns about famous figures from the history of the Black struggle for liberation and civil rights. Doing her own research, Morgan is surprised to discover that the stories and legacies of many of these figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman, are quite different from the versions she learned in school during Black History Month. This is a reflection of a common tendency in education and the media to present a more palatable, almost saintly rendering of Black activists.

For example, Morgan notes that Rosa Parks is frequently depicted as an old woman who ...

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