Reviews for A chorus rises : a Song below water novel

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A 17-year-old magical influencer tries to recover after her life is turned upside down. With “perfect deep brown skin, big eyes and thick eyelashes,” Naema Bradshaw embodies what it is to be an Eloko: an attractive magical being with the ability to charm people with her melody. After Naema is Stoned, “the thing where you’re consumed by gray rock due to a gorgon’s curse, not the more fun thing where you’re high,” by Effie Freeman, a teenage gorgon under the influence of her best friend Tavia Philips’ siren call, Naema finds her popularity sullied. Some claim that she callously and dangerously outed Tavia as a siren. Frustrated with a lack of empathy at home and concerned about a magical wind that has been whipping through her body since her Stoning, Naema heads to a family reunion in the Southwest to recuperate. In the quiet away from Portland, Oregon, she learns to listen and understand that her Elokoness doesn’t disconnect her from racism or from the responsibility to protect other Black women who are being targeted in her name. The story builds slowly but includes timely humor and deep introspection. Morrow unpacks the ways Black women are exploited and pitted against each other by a society that despises their magic—in all its forms. She brilliantly shows her protagonists learning to communicate and collaborate to rightfully disrupt that same society. Considered and focused, this book encourages readers to look inside to help their truths rise. (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up—A year ago in Portland, OR, eloko Naema Bradshaw was Stoned by gorgon rival Effie Freeman and Awakened by siren rival Tavia Philips. She feels betrayed by best friends Jamie and Gavin, boyfriend Priam, and the Eloko community when they watch a film of Tavia's experiences. She objects to the film's depiction of her as a mean girl who outed Tavia's Siren identity. She decides to set the record straight by giving her side of the story as a social media influencer on her platform, LOVE. She takes a self-imposed exile to her maternal family home in the Southwest and pursues film producer Leona Fowl in hopes of erasing Tavia's media image. Her quest for celebrity takes an ugly turn when a vigilante fan club redirects its focus on persecuting Black girls. With the help of male cousin Courtney, her ancestral journey shows her the roots and sources of her magical voice. This companion to A Song Below Water centers the narrative on Naema, who is still a piece of work. She can come off as narcissistic, but her journey unravels, unpacks, and redeems her. Morrow gives an excellent look into Naema's healing and growth. Readers will also enjoy the themes of race, intersectionality, media exploitation, social media, and ancestry. VERDICT Morrow has woven another refreshing YA tale where young people can discover the roots and sources of their magical voices.—Donald Peebles, Brooklyn P.L.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Morrow returns with a breathtaking follow--up to A Song below Water (2020). After wrecking Tavia’s and Effie’s lives, Naema Bradshaw embarks on a journey to repair her image and tell her side of the story. Formerly, the teen influencer had it all: glitz, fame, beauty, and the magical gift of song that makes her an Eloko. But now that the world knows she’s the one who exposed Tavia’s siren powers, a lot of the people who were in her corner before are disparaging her. It leaves her feeling lost and isolated. However, nobody knows the entire truth, and Naema is determined to restore her image. In the midst of all this, new online fans start targeting Black girls to “help” Naema, forcing her to grapple with these new fans’ toxicity and keep them from harming others. A Chorus Rises is truly exceptional, with its poignant character arc for Naema that exhibits immense growth from the girl she was in the first novel. Moreover, Morrow’s writing is atmospheric in the best of ways, warmly enfolding the reader in a world of magic, extraordinary Black girls, and deep explorations of identity and self-worth.