The Chosen One: A First-Generation Ivy League Odyssey (Hardcover)
Echo Brown testifies to the disappointments and triumphs of a Black first-generation college student in this 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.
Echo Brown is the award-winning author of Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, which was named a William C. Morris Award Finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, a CCBC Choice Title, and a Rise: A Feminist Book Project Selection, among other honors. A performer and playwright, Echo created the acclaimed one-woman show Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters. She is a Dartmouth alumna and the first female college graduate in her family.
"Instantly enthralling, Echo Brown crafts a heartrending and triumphant coming-of-age memoir . . . She lays bare cracking wounds of mental illness but finishes with the healing balm of friendship, mentorship, and belonging. Her narrative soars with rawness, magic, and prophetic vision. Echo is the voice of legions of first generation college students."—Miesha Headen, Loganberry Books
“Powerful and vulnerable. Brown paints a realistic portrait touched with fantasy in this story of a young girl struggling to adapt to a new culture while also acknowledging the harsh truth of privilege and how it impacts academic success. This meaningful account will speak to many students who are both eager about and burdened by being their family’s First. ”—Booklist, starred review
"The story asks readers to examine the various intersections of their own identities as they reflect upon the circumstances that shape Echo’s reality . . .A hopeful conclusion brings a sense of clarity and confidence that Echo and her crew will defy the many odds stacked against them."
—BCCB, starred review
"A testimony to starting from the bottom to doing the unimaginable while trauma lingers. The Chosen One is an influential novel encouraging healing, perseverance, and candid conversation about educational disparities. Authentic, thought-provoking, and timely—Echo did it again."—Erica Marks, Cleveland Public Library
"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. 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."—Publishers Weekly
"By adding a dash of magical realism to her real-life experience of being a Black first-generation college student in "The Chosen One," Echo Brown weaves a story that's at once deeply honest and hopeful."—PopSugar