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.
The Chosen OneFeatured
What worked: I was totally mesmerized by Echo's story. Raw, unflinching portrayal of a Black first-generation college student's journey. Echo has had many disadvantages in her life which include living in poverty, being abused, and those who have tried to have her just settle instead of reaching for her true potential.
The novel starts with the first day at Dartmouth college and how overwhelmed Echo is with the school. She's one of a handful of Black students on a predominantly white campus. I really like how this story doesn't hold back from the topic of race. Echo struggles with trying to fit in a white world, getting boys to like her, trying to understand new customs, and cultural differences while battling mental illness. So much is thrown her way. Brown does a great job showing readers Echo's struggles, but also her conquests along the first year of college.
There's also an element of magic realism in which Echo 'travels' to a portal to a different dimension in time and space that only she can use. But once she does, she's able to confront the pain she's experienced in her life. She also gives thanks to her ancestors who give her strength to continue with her journey, when at times she's close to giving up.
There are sensitive topics addressed here that include rape, drug abuse, and racism. All of them are realistic and honest with their portrayals.
Powerful portrayal coming of age story that bravely shows the transition to an Ivy League university. I totally recommend this novel with its strong, empowering message.
2. Unflinching in its portrayal of racism
3. Powerful writing