Book Title: The Chosen One
Author: Echo Brown
Release Date: January 4th, 2022
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Realistic Fiction
My rating: 3/5 Stars
Echo Brown testifies to the disappointments and triumphs of a Black first-generation college student in this fearless exploration of the first year experience.
There are many watchers and they are always white. That’s the first thing Echo notices as she settles into Dartmouth College. Despite graduating high school in Cleveland as valedictorian, Echo immediately struggles to keep up in demanding classes. Dartmouth made many promises it couldn’t keep. The campus is not a rainbow-colored utopia where education lifts every voice. Nor is it a paradise of ideas, an incubator of inclusivity, or even an exciting dating scene. But it might be a portal to different dimensions of time and space—only accessible if Echo accepts her calling as a Chosen One and takes charge of her future by healing her past. This remarkable challenge demands vulnerability, humility, and the conviction to ask for help without sacrificing self-worth.
In mesmerizing personal narrative and magical realism, Echo Brown confronts mental illness, grief, racism, love, friendship, ambition, self-worth, and belonging as they steer the fates of first-generation college students on Dartmouth’s campus. The Chosen One is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that bravely unpacks the double-edged college transition—as both catalyst for old wounds and a fresh start.
Before getting into this review, I just want to preface this and say that The Chosen One was not a bad book by any means, and just because there were parts that made the book less enjoyable for me, I don’t want this to keep anyone from reading it, because the conversations had in this book are really important, especially when talking about racism, mental illness, sexual assault, and financial inequality. The story was also really interesting, and I especially liked it in the beginning, but as the book went on, I became a little confused, and was constantly jarred out of the book trying to figure out which scene I was reading, which part was magic, and what was actually real.
One of the main things that drew me to this book was the use of magical realism to explain Echo Brown’s time in college and work through her trauma, but unfortunately, those were the parts that took me out of the book the most. None of it was ever fully explained, and while it became a little clearer what the meaning of the Chosen Ones and the Keepers were in the end, I still didn’t understand the Star Wars references or what their relevance to the magical realism was. I do think the concept of using magical realism as a way for Echo to process her trauma was really neat; I just feel it could have been executed better.
Still, Echo was a fantastic protagonist to read about. Despite all of the odds stacked against her, she was determined to prove herself to her family, her friends, and to the world. Even so, she also realized just how much she craved approval from others, and how much people’s spiteful opinions were really getting to her. Watching her work through these internal conflicts was one of my favorite parts of the story. Since The Chosen One was also technically a memoir, I could really see where the author’s personal experiences played into the narrative. If this book had taken more of a fictional memoir approach and left out the magical realism, I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more, because the scenes without the confusing magic parts were well done and developed, but with the inclusion of both, it became a little jarring and stilted.
Even so, I’m not disappointed I read this one. As I said before, there were some really important discussions and topics covered in this book, and for that reason alone, I will recommend this book to anyone interested.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out my last ARC Review: Midnight in Everwood