Title: She Who Became the Sun
Author: Shelley Parker-Chan
Publication Date: 2021
Publishing House: Tor Books
I had heard good things about this book and borrowed it from the library as an audiobook. I absolutely love the library. If you don’t have a library card, you should get one because free books.
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
Trigger warning: War, gore, torture, depression, sex. The story also explores genderqueer protagonists that are wonderfully written. The dark and grittiness of this book adds to it’s vibrancy.
The girl may take the place of her brother, Zhu Chongba, after his death, but he never had the drive that she did. As a starving child she was expected to find food her brother and father because she was born a girl and finding and cooking food was the work of a woman but she didn’t get as much to eat. She is smart and resourceful with a will to survive and to achieve the greatness that had been her brother’s destiny.
Zhu is not loud and demanding. She is steady and resilient and works steadily towards her goals. Just because she spent her formative years as a monastery doesn’t make her weak or meek. She is not a bad person but she does do things that are more in her best interests than anyone else while seeming to be humble. However, she does work to actively retain the trust of her subordinates.
I suggest this book to those that enjoy historical fiction, to those that want to explore genderqueer characters and those that just want to read a good, if dark, book. Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Happy reading!
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