Racing the Sun


Book: Racing the Sun

Author: Paul Pitts

Publisher: HarperCollins, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0613377010 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 061337701X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0380754960 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0380754967 Paperback

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: General youth fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Pitts, Paul.  Racing the Sun (Published in 1988 by Avon Camelot Books Inc., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019).  Twelve-year-old Brandon Rogers lives with his dad Keith, an engineer and professor at the University of Utah, and his mother Helen.  Brandon is a seventh grader at Roosevelt Junior High School, where his best friend is David Berger.  David’s nickname is “Ham,” and Brandon’s nickname is “Cochise” because he and his family are Navajo (although Cochise was an Apache).  Being an American Indian isn’t something Brandon likes to advertise. His father had left his Indian heritage behind and changed his name from Kee Redhouse when he went to college, and Brandon has grown up in suburbia–just a “regular kid,” happily a member of the UGA (Underachieving Goof-offs of America) and living the middle-class life that his father carved out for their family.

     However, Brandon’s ill Navajo grandfather, with his smoky smell and embarrassing mumbo-jumbo such as chanting himself to sleep, moves off the reservation near Little Water, NM, and into the lower bunk in Brandon’s room.  Then he starts getting his grandson out of bed before sunrise every morning to race the sun.  Will Brandon be able to cope with the disruptive changes?  What happens when the dying Grandfather demands to go back home one last time?  And are there any important lessons for Brandon to learn?  This is a thought-provoking, realistic story, interspersed with several comic moments.  Unfortunately, there is a little bad language.  The “d” word is found twice, once when Brandon’s dad yells at the boy for nagging him about taking Grandpa home, the other by a man on the bus, who also uses the “h” word a couple of times.  But this fast-reading novel offers a glimpse of Navajo reservation life and culture, and illustrates the importance of appreciating one’s heritage.

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