Girl Warrior

Young Adult

CONTEMPORARY:  Charnaye Toulou feels the pressures of life weighing on her shoulders more heavily than she thought possible. Her father has numerous medical bills and is in a wheelchair after a car accident that also traumatized her sister. The family ranch is in desperate need of repairs, and kids at school take every opportunity to bully her. But Char has a plan. As a competitive horse racer, Char wants to compete in the World-Famous Suicide Horse Race during the Omak Stampede, win the $10,000 cash prize and prove that Native women can be warriors as well. However, someone doesn’t want Char to race, and anonymous threatening letters arrive warning her against it. Will the pressure and bullies bring down this girl warrior, or will Charnaye overcome all obstacles and become “Queen of the Hill”?

A young adult coming of age tale, “Girl Warrior” is a story that will resonate with any readers trying to find their place and grow. While the setting focuses on Native American traditions, the plot interweaves Char’s worries with her dreams of becoming the “Queen of the Hill”. The problem is that while the story has a lot of potential, it starts abruptly, and is so focused on Char’s perspective that the romance feels distant and flat, and a majority of the side characters blur together. On the other hand, the drive Char feels to win is engaging and memorable, and her fears and concerns over the threatening notes and her family’s problems are poignant enough to reach the reader’s sympathies. Overall, this is a book that touches the heart of growing up and makes it feel tangible. 

Sarah E Bradley