Nizhoni Begay wants to be a star, or at least popular. She’s hoping to make the game-winning score at her middle school basketball game but, instead, she’s humiliated when she gets distracted and gets hit in the face by the ball. The reason she was distracted was that she saw a man in the stands watching her. She could tell he was a monster. When that same man shows up at her house for dinner because he’s her dad’s new boss, Nizhoni tries to warn her father that he’s a monster but her father doesn’t believe her and seems very eager to please the monster.
When the new boss tells Nizhoni that she and her little brother Mac have powers he’s interested in, and then kidnaps their dad, it’s up to Nizhoni, Mac, and Nizhoni’s best friend Davery to rescue him.
This sets them on a quest in which they will need to find a map, solve riddles, pass tests, procure special weapons, and be clever and brave. Fortunately, they will have some help from unexpected sources, including a stuffed horned toad which Nizhoni purchased at a museum.
My teenage daughter and I listened to the audiobook of Race to the Sun (2020) together. It’s a finalist for the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel. Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery are appealing heroes, and the story is well-paced, often humorous, and a lot of fun. We enjoyed learning about Navajo mythology, specifically the legend of the monster-slaying Hero Twins which we were unfamiliar with.
Rebecca Roanhorse addresses issues such as protecting the land, the importance of family and ancestors, and the value of hard work. The story is sweet and heartwarming, and a great book to read with the family. My daughter and I loved the audiobook addition published by Listing Library and impeccably performed by Kinsale Hueston.