She Who Became the Sun

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Shelley Parker-Chan
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Aug 22, 2022

Written by Shelley Parker-Chan, She Who Became the Sun is an exhilarating and emotional
read, especially if you like queer historical fiction and fantasy. It follows the growth of a young
woman who takes her brother’s name, a name destined for greatness. In Mongol China, peasants are
starving, famine is commonplace, and bandit attacks are frequent. When a bandit attack leaves both
children without a father and eventually takes the life of the brother, Zhu--the name the young
woman stole from her brother--uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery in hopes of finding a
better life for herself. But what starts off as a desperate act in the name of survival becomes a quest to
fulfill the fate of the name Zhu: greatness. Suddenly, Zhu finds herself in the middle of a revolution,
and according to her name, she should come out on top. But if Zhu’s name isn’t even her own, will
her destiny come true, or will she be plunged back into her old life of obscurity and insignificance?

The beautiful prose of She Who Became the Sun matches the beautiful story. It grapples with
topics--topics that would be easier to ignore and extremely difficult to confront--like self-identity,
morality, and loyalty. In the pursuit of greatness, Zhu realizes within herself that sometimes she
disregards topics like these. She knows that she’s not much of a hero and sees the world through a
somewhat nihilistic lens as a result of the hardness she endured growing up, which is initially quite
off-putting and could even drive readers away from an imperfect protagonist. But it also highlights
the fact that not everyone needs to be perfect, as long as you try your best to do the right thing,
something that all of us can take away and apply to our own lives.

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