i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.
this review is part of the a song below water blog tour hosted by jeanbooknerd. ♡
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.
a song below water is, in a nutshell, a timely story about racism, misogynoir, activism, and social justice. on top of that, the cover is so freakishly beautiful. needless to say, i absolutely loved the book ♡
what makes this book so wonderful is that it is set in a fantasy world different from ours where people have magical powers, and it accurately and artfully reflects our real world – a song below water tackles social problems such as racial profiling and police brutality, which are sadly all too prevalent in our society. throughout the story we see how the two main characters get treated differently because of their race and powers, and how some people can feel indifferent or even excited when innocent people of marginalized identities are killed.
black and female and a siren is just layers upon layers of trauma.a song below water by bethany c. morrow
also, i really liked the african mythology inspired magical realism. the author seamlessly weaves elements of african folklore into the story, and bases social hierachy on the mythological identities of different characters. this book not only offers the reader a simple introduction of african mythology by including characters who are mythical creatures, such as sprites, eloko, sirens and gargoyles, but also uses it to symbolize and illustrate privilege and internalized racism.
on top of that, the relationships and characters in the book are written really well – they’re dynamic and not at all perfect, and that’s what makes them so relatable to the reader. the two main characters, tavia and effie, have an amazing friendship, and despite the ups and downs they encounter, they are always supportive and protective of each other. it warms my heart to see such pure, genuine friendship between girls, in which they’re more like sisters than best friends, and this isn’t something we see that often in the young adult genre. i also loved mama theo’s “tough love” façade, paw paw’s gentleness, and tavia’s dad’s mix of high expectations and love for the two girls. (the addition of a gargoyle was pretty interesting too. ) the only complaint i had is that i wished things hadn’t progressed so fast between effie, and her love interest, wallace. they’re clearly really good for each other, but i was a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see more of that ~slow burn~.
what adds to the realisticity of the story even more is that tavia’s an ib student! i’m not studying ib, but my school’s an ib school, and i’ve seen many of my friends struggling with their theory of knowledge essays and cas (creativity, art, service) projects. i think it’s my first time reading about an ib student in a book and i’m sure many people will be able to relate to tavia’s experience at school.
a song below water was an incredibly important and relevant read, and i would highly recommend it.
Bethany C. Morrow is a recovering expat splitting her time between Montreal, Quebec, and upstate New York – yet another foreign place. A California native, Bethany graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology (but took notable detours in the Film and Theatre departments). Following undergrad, she studied Clinical Psychological Research at the University of Wales, Bangor, in Great Britain before returning to North America to focus on her literary work.
Though sociology and forensic psychology will always be among her passions, writing has been a lifelong endeavor. Whether in novels for the YA or adult market, novellas, short stories, stage plays, television pilots or short film scripts, Bethany’s speculative literary fiction uses a focus on character and language to engage with, comment on and investigate worlds not unlike our own.
5 participants will win a copy of a song below water by bethanie c. morrow (international). participants must be at least thirteen years old or have a parent’s permission to enter. the giveaway starts on 1st june 2020 and ends on 21st june 2020. enter here.
a little note from chloe:
i urge you to join the fight against racial inequality and demand justice for the murders of george floyd, breonna taylor, ahmaud arbery, david mcatee and christian cooper, among many other innocent black people. below are some useful resources and things you can do to help (please tell me if you know any other useful links / resources and i’ll add them to the list):
a summary of what’s happening and what you can do to help – https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
read up on black history – https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bz011IF2Pu9TUWIxVWxybGJ1Ync
stream this video (ad revenue will be donated, do not skip ads) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM&feature=youtu.be
donate to the george floyd gofundme – https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
donate to the ahmaud arbery gofundme – https://www.gofundme.com/f/i-run-with-maud
donate to the breonna taylor and david mcatee gofundme – https://www.gofundme.com/f/r3w76-raising-money-for-breonna-taylor-and-david-macatee
have you read a song below water? what did you think? let me know in the comments ❤