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May 12, 2020
THE SUMMARY FROM THE BACK OF THE BOOK READS:
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. Nevermind 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 by Bethany C. Morrow is about Tavia and Effie, two black girls living in Portland, Oregon, which — according to them — is whiter than the rest of America. They’re sisters by choice who began living together around the beginning of high school, and they’re facing their junior year of high school when everything in this book takes place.
Tavia is a siren and has the power to control people to an extent with her voice. Because she has that power, people fear it and she has to keep the fact that she is a siren a secret. The only people who know are her parents, Effie, and a few select people who are called her “network” — people who work to keep sirens safe. I equated it to something like an underground railroad of sorts for sirens within a city.
While Tavia is focused on keeping her secret and voice under control, Effie is facing her own set of problems. She struggles with impossibly dry skin, a dry and itchy scalp, and general social anxiety and insecurities (the last one is just conjecture on my part), but instead of focusing on that, she focuses on the upcoming Renaissance Faire. Effie plays Euphemia the Mermaid at the faire and looks forward to it every year.
Things start to go sideways when Tavia realizes her voice has more power than she thought and Effie realizes that all signs are pointing to her being more than just a human girl. The girls rely on each other and themselves as they try to figure out how to face a future that’s becoming more uncertain every day.
I can honestly say that this book is not what I was expecting at all.
I don’t know if that’s on my part because I had expectations when I shouldn’t have or what, but this book is definitely much more than a YA novel about a siren and her sister. It touches on topics of race and discrimination while showing that even well-meaning people can be part of the problem. It shows how families can be divided, how the effects ripple through communities, how seemingly “insignificant” people can feel the emotional blows.
To be completely honest, this book is heavy — it’s not for the light of heart to pick up blindly, but it’s worth the read if you have the time.
But, that’s my two cents on this book — spend it how you like!
Until next time, may your days be lovely and your books interesting.