Charnaye Toulou has her sights pinned on winning the World Famous Suicide Horse Race during the Omak Stampede. Her desire is to win the purse in order to help her paraplegic father improve living conditions while proving Native women can be warriors. One bully and several anonymous threatening letters try and stop her. So when she hooks up with relatives and a horse that can take her the distance in this rite-of-passage horse race, she begins the rigorous training it takes to become “King of the Hill,” or in her case “Queen.”
This coming of age story is about a girl who has just graduated from high school and who competes in
the World Famous Suicide Race at the Omak Stampede in eastern Washington State. Populated with
characters who love and support Charnaye and those who wish her ill, she struggles with everything
from her Native America family’s poverty, through her grandfather’s and father’s ill health – and keeping
the secret she holds from everyone. That she burns to become the queen of the hill, winner of the prize
that has been an all-male bastion since its inception in 1935.
After reading and becoming a fan of Carmen Peone’s excellent YA novels, I knew she was an
insightful and talented author. This is the novel she was born to write! An expansion of her 2017 LAURA
Award-winning short story from Women Writing the West, Queen of the Hill, this story is truly gripping.
Carmen Peone lives on the Colville Reservation and is a marvelous horsewoman, setting her up as the
perfect author for this story.
Author of the award-winning Yellowstone Series of Novels
Charnaye Toulou has a goal. She wants to win the World Famous Suicide Horse Race and show everyone that girls can be as brave as boys. Despite threats and warnings, she pursues her dream with single-mindedness. Her grit makes her a hero and a role model for both the girls in her tribe and for young readers. I love this character, who doesn’t let bullying or self-doubt stop her in her quest to succeed. This story is an excellent book for grandmothers or aunts to give to a junior high or high school girl who might be searching for their own answers. Carmen Peone writes about tribal customs with a keen eye to detail. I learned a lot, reading this story, and I love the message it conveys. I also loved the ledger art and had to google it to find out more about this intriguing art form that Charnaye introduced me to. I look forward to more of Carmen’s stories about contemporary Native American girls and the challenges they face.
Anne Schroeder, author of award-winning Marie Inez
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