Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Published January 14th 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents
Age Range: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
Rep: Navajo (Native American) MC, African American-Navajo SC
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her.
When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . .
Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.
knowing nothing about Navajo tales and culture, race to the sun was an eye-opening and fantastic experience into certain aspects of the mythology and legend. through rebecca roanhorse’s book, readers get a glimpse of Indigenous lore and traditions. a clan system of the Navajo people was created by the Changing Woman which formed the structure of how the characters would introduce themselves. also, meeting mythological legends, the Navajo Holy People, such as Na’ashjéii Asdzáá (Spider Woman), the four guardians of the mountains, and Jóhonaa’éí, were so cool!
unexpectedly, nizhoni started experiencing the supernatural; she’s seeing monsters in their true forms. of course, many don’t believe her claims of witnessing the supernatural especially adults aka her father. on this trip, nizhoni is with her brother, mac, and her best friend, davery. unknown to mac, he, too, have some unexplored powers to discover. in school, the siblings aren’t considered popular or cool at all. little did their bullies know, the siblings are descendants of the Changing Woman and they have a horned toad named mr. yazzie that guides them throughout their journey.
linking to present day, rebecca roanhorse used the villain’s horrendous actions such as destroying natural lands of the Indigenous tribes and breaking environmental treaties for his own greed.
“To save the planet. They are devourers, you see. They will not stop until they have consumed every patch of ground and every drop of water, and pulled the guts of Mother Earth from the inside for their own uses.”
all in all, i had the best time reading about the Navajo culture and myths. there needs to be more books that highlights the expansive world of the Navajos and the Indigenous tribes. nizhoni’s an extremely likeable character who has flaws of her own but will never allow her weaknesses to stop her from fighting against the evils of the world.