Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Genre: realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Morgan can’t understand why she can’t just be “normal.” Outwardly, she’s just a typical teen girl attending a Christian high school in early 2000’s suburban California. However, inside her head she suffers from crippling anxiety and depression that keep her from connecting with her peers and her family. She does well enough in school, but even her teachers can’t seem to understand that she feels things more deeply than other students. This is the story of Morgan’s journey to beginning to accept herself as she slowly pulls together a chosen family of other misfits who may not always understand her but love her all the same.
I always appreciate it when I can find a YA book with a Black protagonist that centers more around the individual’s everyday lived experience rather than serving as a vehicle to tackle the systemic ills of our society. Those books are needed, of course, but it’s also nice to see the literary world reaching toward differentiated representation and portraying main characters of color in varied situations. I also thought the treatment of anxiety, depression, and mental health care was well done. I hope that this book and others like it will begin to lift the stigma around talking about mental health issues in our society.
Anything you did not like about the book? When I began reading, I thought that the author had tried to tackle too many topics at once, but I came to see that the storyline is just a reflection of the complex inner life of a teen.
To whom would you recommend this book? Readers of realistic fiction who appreciate a diversity of characters
Who should buy this book? YA (high school) librarians and YA public librarians. It’s best for older teens as there are some pretty frank discussions of sex and scenes of drinking and drug use that younger readers might not yet be ready for.
Where would you shelve it? YA fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s a good addition to a diverse collection, but not a book to drop everything else for.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Luker, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School
Date of review: 4/28/2021