Blog Tour (Review): A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (June 2, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250315328
ISBN-13: 978-1250315328


“Morrow expertly and smartly explores race, bigotry, oppression, and injustice against a backdrop of ordinary life with a dose of the supernatural added to the mix. A Song Below Water is a must-read for lovers of fantasy and contemporary stories alike. ” ―Booklist, starred review

“Morrow has deftly woven a contemporary tale with mythical elements to take on the invisibility and marginalization of Black women, touching on issues such as misogynoir, body image, social justice, and generational trauma. Empowering and innovative. Morrow elevates mermaids and sirens to ­legitimate and compelling vanguards for social change.” ―School Library Journal

“A watery and melodic crossroads of the real and the mythic, A Song Below Water lures readers with its seductive and beautifully black siren song. An enthralling tale of black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” ―Dhonielle Clayton, New York Timesbestselling author of The Belles series

“I love this book so, so much! Bethany C. Morrow delivers a blistering modern classic with this gorgeous tale of friendship and power. A Song Below Water somehow manages to be intensely happy and sad at the same time and all in the balance of great, riveting storytelling. The best YA novel I’ve read all year.” ―Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper

“Morrow masterfully blends the real lives of Black girls in contemporary Portland with a mythic world of sirens, gargoyles and other supernatural creatures to create a compelling coming-of-age story in which two sisters, bound by love and fate, find their voices and their power.” ―Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Award Winner, author of Trail of Lightning and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn

“Empowering and full of surprises, A Song Below Water reminds us how important it is to use our voices, even when we’re afraid. Morrow has created a world that’s both familiar and brimming with fantastical creatures, and the result is timely, necessary, and utterly captivating.” ―Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish

“A rich, intricate dive into mythology, misogynoir, and the way the world makes black girls out to be monsters. Like the siren’s song, A Song Below Water is irresistibly compelling.” ―Heidi Heilig, award-winning author of The Girl from Everywhere

“The world is lush and intense, the voice intoxicating, and the message eternal. Morrow will have you under her spell from page one.” ―L.L. McKinney, author of the Nightmare-Verse series

“A compelling tale packed with endlessly inventive magical concepts, blazingly current social commentary, and heroines you’ll fall hopelessly in love with. I’m obsessed.” ―Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex series

“A Song Below Water is a lush, colorful, and deeply moving masterpiece about mythology, the sometimes masked evils of racism, and all the ways the world hurts black girls. An irresistible and perfectly bewitching read that I couldn’t put down!” ―Jay Coles, composer and author of Tyler Johnson Was Here

“A Song Below Water is a captivating tale about the magic of sisterhood and the importance of being seen for who you truly are.” ―Parker Peevyhouse, author of The Echo Room

“An exciting new contemporary fantasy. In this parallel world, black female empowerment is standing up for yourself and others while simultaneously navigating love, physical and emotional violence, and the responsibility of immense supernatural power.” ―Kirkus Reviews

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.

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I received a copy of A Song Below Water from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.
So. This book. I’ll be honest here, it was a bit of a conflict for me. I wasn’t sure where it was going or how I was going to relate to the book. I am not a black female and I haven’t lived the struggles that can be associated with being one. However, I don’t think you need that for this book.
It took some sitting down for me to know what I wanted to focus on in this review. It’s the underlying message of voices needing to be heard. I feel that in a subconscious. I have that one desire: to be heard. And that very fear: to be silenced. This book is also about identity. Not the social identity that society gives you (both the bad and good), but the personal identity. The direct decision to be the type of person you want to be.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some other core issues in this book that are greatly directed to today and every day, there are. But, I believe this book is about finding who you want to be in a world that pushes and tells you different narratives.
The writing isn’t what I would put for older teen audiences. I feel this is more for the younger teen spectrum. But, it has a relevant message that everyone can relate to and hold in their hearts.
I do feel this book could have been longer and I felt that the two points of view were confusing at times. Not because of there being multiple viewpoints, but because I wasn’t sure how the two connected. They do because they are “sisters”, but their lives aren’t written in the same parallel that literature likes to make them. One character is finding her voice and identity through that. The other is finding a familial identity and  The concept of the work was strong and the lore was interesting. I wanted more of the world itself, to actually feel it.
All in all, I would read another book from Morrow and am excited to see what else she has in store for our bookshelves.
Photo Content from Bethany C. Morrow 

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.

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