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Young Adult Fiction 615
A harsh, beautiful story that punches you right in the heart
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A daughter and a son live with their father in a small, dying village in 1345 China. The son, Zhu Chongba, is predicted to have a fate seeped in such greatness that generations upon generations will know his name. The daughter, however, is predicted to have a fate of nothingness. When bandits attack their village, both the father and Zhu Chongba end up dying. The daughter, rejecting her fate of nothingness, takes on her brother’s name and identity and enters a monastery. Years later, Zhu’s monastery will be destroyed, sending Zhu on a path to claim the greatness she was once denied.

3 Reasons to read SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN:

1.) The plot: SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN spans across several years. The beginning half is primarily focused on building Zhu’s character and showing her experience at the monastery. This is a plot that asks the reader to be patient but rewards the patience with an explosive final third act that weaves everything together. It is well worth the time to get comfortable in Zhu’s dynamic world.

2.) The theme of fate: Fate plays a large role in this story. The threat of an empty fate is what prompts Zhu to take her brother’s, but we also see other characters get tangled in their own fates. It isn’t so much asking if everything is pre-destined but more exploring of how far people will go to claim the vision they have of their own fate and what sacrifices they are willing to make.

3.) The gritty world-building: Zhu’s world, 1345 China under Mongol rule, is not easy for anyone, but especially not so for a girl. What I love about Parker-Chan’s framing of this hard world is that no detail or scene is gratuitous. There is no unwarranted gore or violence that some war-centered novels have. Every slap, strike, and stab have a reason and serve a clear purpose. It is also refreshing to see a story like this that doesn’t include sexual assault.

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is a harsh, beautiful story that punches you right in the heart.
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