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    Speak, Siren!

    Bethany C. Morrow's A Song Below Water is a timely tale of sisterhood and activism. If you're looking for a YA book that reads as it was written for teens in 2020 and will remind you of how great supernatural fantasy can be, then look no further. What I love about this book is how the relationship between the two sisters, Tavia and Effie, anchors the narrative. They alternate narrating chapters, which allows them to both be presented as complex and powerful young women—even when they don't necessarily feel powerful. There's a hot love interest for Effie, and Tavi is working through the fallout of a previous relationship, so I enjoyed that the book never suggests that being in a new relationship will suddenly fix her. Family is at the heart of this novel, and it is so refreshing to see parents and guardians playing an active role in the teens' lives. Responsible adults don't always make perfect decisions, and A Song Below Water shows that. It's as empathetic to its adult characters as its teen characters when it comes to their choices and motivations. The fandom elements of the book are lovingly done, whether it's discussing the role YouTube star Camilla Fox plays in Tavi's life or Effie's starring story in the local Ren Faire. The supernaturals and their mysteries are woven through day-to-day life, reminding me a lot of watching a slice-of-life anime. Activism also plays a big part, and A Song Below Water is true to what attending a protest for the first time can be like. (view spoiler) The mystery of Effie is well-seeded through the novel, so that when the reveal happens many readers will feel satisfied in getting the answers they suspected were coming. It's a solid ending, even if you aren't surprised by it. I'd be more than happy to read more books about these characters or their friends set in this version of Portland! Non-Black readers looking for a contemporary with a twist will find this is a great book to start/continue learning more about the Black experience in America.

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