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Soldier Sister, Fly Home

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A tender and gripping novel about family, identity, and loss.
Fourteen-year-old Tess is having a hard enough time understanding what it means to be part white and part Navajo, but now she's coping with her sister Gaby's announcement that she's going to enlist and fight in the Iraq war. Gaby's decision comes just weeks after the news that Lori Piestewa, a member of their
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Charlesbridge Publishing
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  135 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Full review to come.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took a while to get into this book. At first I was bored, but then the story started being more descriptive of the local customs of the Navaho, and the landscape, and that is when the story blossomed.

The books starts with a true event, the death of the first native woman in a foreign war (the Iraq War, Lori Piestew), and how the Navaho and Hopi of the area honor her. From there, the story. From there, the story follow Tess, whose sister is also gone off to be a soldier, because she wants to g
Tess, half Navajo and half white, lives on the rez with her family and wonders how to reconcile feeling too white for her home community but too Indian for her school in Flagstaff. Her beloved older sister, Gaby, enlists as a way to pay for college, and Tess spends the better part of a year letting anger and acceptance battle in her heart. She's helped in large part by her older sister's prized stallion, Blue, whose wildness and power have always frightened her.

This novel does many things well.
Clare O'Beara
This is a touching and at times sad account of a young half Navaho girl who looks after her older sister's horse. The elder sister has joined the Army after an injury lost her any chance of completing university on a running scholarship. But being overseas means that her big blue stallion will go crazy from lack of work. Her younger sister nervously accepts the responsibility.

At school the girl is not sure who she is or where she belongs. For summer she'll spend time with her grandmother herdin
Sep 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
Writing about the identity of a character whose identity is not your own is hard to do. The chances of it going awry are high, as is the case in Soldier Sister, Fly Home. The questions of what a "real Indian" is are overwrought and strike me as odd.

Coupled with the stereotyping (stoic Indians, fearless Indians, and wise Indians), this is not a book that I can recommend.

A full review is at American Indians in Children's Literature:

Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I’ve enjoyed many books by Nancy Bo Flood, and SOLDIER SISTER, FLY HOME, is no exception. This novel made me think more deeply about what it means, and how it feels to be bi-racial than any novel I’ve read before. Tess is half white, half Native American, but as she states herself, “They never saw me. They never saw Navajo or white - they only saw an Indian.” When her sister Gaby enlists in the army and is sent to Iraq, Tess is left to take care of Gaby’s horse Blue.

I’m a sucker for stories with
Alex  Baugh
Tess, 13, is having a hard time trying to come to terms with just who she is. Part Navajo, part white, she doesn’t feel like she belongs in either world. Despite being a champion-fast runner, Tess’s teammates at the white school she attends in Flagstaff, Arizona, call her names like ‘Pokeyhontas,’ never seeing her as anything other than an Indian. But when she returns home to the Rez, she never feels Navajo enough.

Tess has been annoyed at her sister Gaby, 19, for joining the Army after her frien
Debbie Tanner
Tess is having a hard time coping with lots of parts of her life. She goes to a boarding school in Flagstaff where she feels alienated because most of the other students are white and make fun of her for being part Navajo. Her sister has decided to enlist in the military which is super scary because not only will she be far away, her sister's friend Lori, was the first Navajo soldier to be killed in the line of duty since World War 2. I like this one because of the vivid images of the Navajo nat ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully told, gentle yet thrilling tale of sisters in the Navajo nation, their grandmother (or shima sani), a horse, a canyon, death and life. The constant threat of loss when Tess's older sister, Gaby, leaves for war; the harsh yet beautiful desert setting; the insights into Navajo culture -- all bring richness to this coming-of-age story. The relationships engaged my heart fully. Danger is always present, and so is love. I recommend it highly.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This is a beautiful coming of age story of Tess, a biracial Navajo-White girl, who tries to understand and accept who she is. Her sister enlisted in the military and Tess has to deal with fear for her sister's safety while she at the same time feels abandoned by her. The story skillfully weaves together many themes and gives insights into Navajo culture. Great read.
Aimee Massey
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it

Teshina, known as Tess, is fourteen and lives on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Her mother is Navajo and her father is white, and Tess is having a hard time figuring out who she really is. She has no friends either on the reservation or in the predominantly white high school she goes to in Flagstaff. Her parents insisted she would have more opportunities if she attended the Flagstaff school, even though she has to board in town during the week (the book never says where she stays) and come h
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Author Nancy Bo Flood, is back with another book inspired by her life on the Navajo Nation. "Soldier Sister, Fly Home" is dedicated to Lori Piestwea, the first Native American woman to die in combat on foreign soil. Beautiful, poetic, and timely, "Soldier Sister, Fly Home" pays homage to sisters, Navajo life, and American war heroes.

Tess, the first person protagonist, and her older sister, Gaby, have been very close their entire lives. Both are talented runners, until Gaby suffers an accident wh
Sheila Welch
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
SOLDIER SISTER, FLY HOME: Recommended for schools and libraries, a beautifully told family story

SOLDIER SISTER, FLY HOME, written by Nancy Bo Flood, is an engaging novel that begins with a powerful prologue. When the narrator, Tess, (now thirteen) was a ten-year-old, she saw a man shoot a raven for no apparent reason, and she swore she’d never fire a rifle again. In the intervening time, Tess has begun to realize that even the most heartfelt promises are sometimes broken. Life is way more nuance
Nancy Bo-Flood shows well the importance of ceremony in the Navajo world, and begins the story with the tribe saying goodbye to a fallen warrior, a young mother who was killed in action. She lets Tess, a half-white, half Navajo young woman tell her story of the way things are with her as a “mixed-up” young adolescent. She is a runner, doesn’t want to attend this first ceremony, but she does. We learn then that there is more turmoil in Tess, not knowing exactly where she belongs, who she is. Thi ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Did I enjoy reading Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood? Yes, mostly. But not completely. I can see how there are certain scenes in this one that would greatly upset readers.

I'll start with what I did love. I loved the main character, Tess. She's a complex character, and this is her coming-of-age story. She's struggling to answer the "Who am I?" question. She's half Navajo, half-white; she doesn't feel comfortable anywhere. (When she's attending a mostly-white school, she feels out of pl
Tay Erto
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The heroine of this book is a Navajo girl named Tess who is going through changes in her life as she worries about her sister Gaby who is enlisting in the military. The book incorporates a real life person into the plot- Lori Piestewa a Hopi / Mexican American woman who served in the military and was killed during the Iraq War. As an American Indian myself, and a former children's librarian- I enjoyed this book on so many levels. I am from a military family and books that portray a military fami ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Virginia McGee Butler
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Soldier Sister, Fly Home

The prologue for Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood starts with a poem
Feathers fly,
Carrying a heartbeat.
Fly home.
Blue horse. Lii’ Dootl’izhii.
and ends with a vow from Tess that she will never shoot a rifle again. I’m fond of prologues like this that tantalize one into a book.

Tess, half-Navaho and half-white, searches for where she fits in the two worlds she travels between. Early in the book, she points out a common mistake of lumping all Native Americans togeth
Story Circle Book Reviews
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
When you are fourteen-years-old, how do you deal with an identity that is confusing and loss that is nearly inconceivable? If you are Tess in Nancy Bo Flood's middle grade novel, Soldier Sister, Fly Home, you talk to your Navajo grandparents, because your mom works at the hospital; and your dad is in Phoenix because he got a promotion at his computer company; and the white kids at the school in Flagstaff bully you because they see you as Indian, not Navajo or white; and your big sister, Gaby, is ...more
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: "A tender and gripping novel about family, identity, and loss.

Fourteen-year-old Tess is having a hard enough time understanding what it means to be part white and part Navajo, but now she's coping with her sister Gaby's announcement that she's going to enlist and fight in the Iraq war. Gaby's decision comes just weeks after the news that Lori Piestewa, a member of their community, is the first Native American woman in US history to die in combat, adding to Tess's stress and emotions.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
When we first meet 13-year-old Tess, she's at the rifle range with her father. A man there shoots a raven from off a telephone pole, and Tess vows never to use a rifle again. Besides, she has more important things to do; her sister is coming home on leave from the Army, but first she and the other Navajos need to honor the late Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat.

Tess is horrified to learn that her sister, Gaby, will only be with them for a few days as she's being dep
Darby Karchut
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There’s so much to love about SOLIDER SISTER, FLY HOME. It’s a growing pains kind of story about a girl’s struggle to find her true self. But it’s also about dynamic family love, the beauty of the Southwest, and horses. Tess captured my heart right from the start (actually the whole family did, especially Tess’ grandmother). Like all young teens, Tess is trying to figure out who she is, all while trying to reconcile being half Navajo and half Anglo. The writing was poetic, and reminded me of OWL ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Tess and her older sister, Gaby, are far apart in age, but close and share everything. Until Gaby enlists and Tess' anger threatens to change everything, especially when their friend Lori, the first Native American woman to die in combat on foreign soil.

Gaby and Tess have always been torn between two worlds - not white enough to be accepted in their Flagstaff high school, but not Navajo enough to be accepted on the Reservation. But at least they had each other and had dreams together. When Gaby
I really enjoyed this book about a part Navajo/part white teen, Tess, who has to spend the summer on her own when her sister, Gina, not only enrolls in the Army, but then is deployed to Iraq. Tess learns who she is, how to befriend her sister’s dreaded, half-wild horse, Blue, and mostly how to forgive and let things go.

I loved not only the diversity of this book but also the close family relationships portrayed that are so often missing in teen fiction. I loved her poetry and her voice. The des
Skyler Blackwell
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern, middle-grade
A beautiful story featuring Tess, a 13-year-old half-Native American girl who is coping with her sister Gabby's decision to enlist in the Army. See, Gabby's friend Lori just died, and she was the first Native American Woman to die in the line of duty on foreign soil. Before she leaves, Tess promises Gabby that she will take care of Gabby's horse, Blue. As she learns more about her roots, she bonds with the horse. This is also a story about mortality, and all that a teen can imagine about the sub ...more
Teshina is young teenage Navajo girl. Her family s half white and she lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. During the summer, she visits her grandparents on the Navajo Reservation. A ceremony is being held for Lori, a Hopi woman who died in Iraq War. The first Native American woman who died on foreign soil. It makes Teshina sad because her sister Gaby is in Iraq now. Teshina or Tess, is looking after Gaby's horse Blue and riding in the desert canyon near her home, as well as learning Navajo language and ...more
Niki Marion
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This narrative is an animal story that feels very familiar, a la Gary Paulsen's The Haymeadow or Wilson Rawls's Where the Red Fern Grows, but it's also very unfamiliar, in that it focuses on a 13 yo half-Navajo, half-white protagonist whose older sister has just been deployed to Iraq. I welcome this blend of old- and newness.

It's a book that says 10+ on its flap copy, but I am definitely keeping it in my middle grade section.
Amanda Sanders
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story about Tess, a half white, half Native American middle school student who lives on with her Native American relatives and goes to school with white students. Her sister, Gaby, was always there for her to help her with her problems. Gaby enlisted in the military and was sent overseas. Tess has to learn to get by without her sister and take care of her sister's horse whom Gaby does not trust. This is a good story, but a little predictable.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ok, multicultural, horses
This was a nice book. It is about a girl whose sister is a soldier. She has to take care of her sisters horse Blue but Tess does not think blue is the best horse. Overtime, Tess realizes that Blue has a bigger heart than she'd expected but when somthing awful happens will Tess cross her line to save her sisters horse just like she'd promised?
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Nancy Bo Flood is an author, psychologist, teacher, and mother who writes about what she enjoys—children and foreign cultures. She has taught in several different cultures, including Japan, Saipan of Micronesia, Hawaii and Samoa. She lives on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona.

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