More Than Just a Mean Girl: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

Release Date: June 1, 2021
Series: A Song Below Water #2
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.

Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.

When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice.

My Thoughts

It is tempting to reduce Naema’s story into a redemption arc, but I think that misses the point of the novel. That and it positions her as the villain of A Song Below Water. There really isn’t anything Naema needs to be redeemed from. Naema is no villain; she’s a teenage girl who made mistakes and refuses to let those mistakes define her. What went down between her, Tavia, and Effie was a high school squabble that was turned into something meta by others. The true villain is a society that is willing to smother and silence Black girls simply for existing. Naema behaved badly, sure, but when compared to an oppressive system whose main attributes are brutality and threats, her actions pale in comparison…

Read the rest of this review at

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

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