'Healer of the Water Monster' by Alumnus Brian L. Young '19 to be Released May 2021

Nicole Saldarriaga
October 13, 2020
'Healer of the Water Monster' book cover

Healer of the Water Monster, a middle-grade chapter book by Fiction Alumnus Brian L. Young '19, will be released by Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins, on May 11, 2021. The book is available for preorder here

Nathan, the protagonist of Healer of the Water Monster, is a young Navajo boy who stays with his grandmother for the summer. Used to the amenities of his life in Phoenix, Nathan has a hard time adjusting to his grandmother's lifestyle in a mobile home site on the Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico. When Nathan gets lost in the nearby desert, he meets a sick water monster from the Navajo Creation Story and undertakes a journey to find a cure for the water monster's mysterious illness. 

In an interview with We Need Diverse Books, Young shares that "Healer of the Water Monster is deeply steeped in Navajo mythologies and philosophies," and he expresses his concern that the book might be categorized simply as Urban Fantasy. 

"My culture isn't fantasy," Young said, "it's spiritual and religious. My culture is a living, breathing entity that influences my everyday actions and...is still recovering from colonization. I hope that while readers may recognize the structures of the hero's journey with urban fantasy elements, they also recognize that my culture isn't something to be taken lightly. I have taken much consideration in how I want to share it."

Author and filmmaker Brian L. Young is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and now lives in Brooklyn. He was awarded a fellowship with the Sundance Ford Foundation for one of his feature-length scripts and has worked on several short films including Tsídii Nááts’íílid – Rainbow Bird and A Conversation on Race with Native Americans for the short documentary series produced by The New York Times. He is currently working on two more books.