Review: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun (#1) by Tola Okogwu

Goodreads | Waterstones

Onyeka has a lot of hair­—the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.
At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psycho-kinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with super powers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies…

This book reminded me how much fun middle grade can be. I picked this one up hoping for a fantasy reminiscent of Amari and the Night Brothers, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Onyeka finds out early in this book that she has psycho-kinetic powers from her hair, and the book honestly explodes from there. I was hooked on this book from the first few chapters, because it was so action packed and quick to read.

The Academy of the Sun was such a brilliant setting and the plot kept me gripped from beginning to end. I also really enjoyed the complexities of the plot in relation to Onyeka’s friends and family relationships.

I loved how this book discussed Black culture and focused on the power of Onyeka’s hair. The author has worked in hair care and this shows throughout the book, especially in the passion of Onyeka’s power.

I hope that many children pick up this book and see themselves in Onyeka. This story was so refreshing, fun, fast-paced and entertaining.

I’m so excited to hear this book will be adapted for screen by David Oyelowo and Will Smith and released on Netflix!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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