cover image The Chosen One: A First-Generation Ivy League Odyssey

The Chosen One: A First-Generation Ivy League Odyssey

Echo Brown. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-31066-6

Brown’s (Black Girl Unlimited) autobiographical sophomore novel weaves magical realism and mentions of Star Wars mythology into the collegiate experience of Echo, a Black student whose aim to succeed at Dartmouth becomes a quest to overcome personal trauma and broad cosmic forces. Working-class Echo, a Cleveland native, hopes to live the life promised in Ivy League brochures, but encounters anti-Blackness and professors with low expectations of her on the largely wealthy and white campus; she also worries about family back home, where “a day is just a bookmark between tragedies.” After falling for white junior Bryce and with him attending the annual performance of a hypnotist who calls her “the Chosen One,” Echo begins seeing twisting portals on walls and having visions that keep coming true. When a harrowing sight in the woods uproots buried personal and generational trauma, Echo starts on a path toward unlocking her true calling. Though the imaginative story’s magical elements take a while to hit their stride, Echo’s internality is rife with tender ruminations—on independence, fear of failure, and mental health—explored with vigor alongside themes of healing, forgiveness, and the human need to be and feel loved. Ages 14–up. Agent: Janine Kamouh, WME. (Jan.)