Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
In Firekeeper’s Daughter, debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.
Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims.
Now, as the deceptions—and deaths—keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
ARC provided by MacMillan Children’s publishing via NetGalley for an honest review.
This book has been getting a lot of good reviews, and they are well deserved. This book tackles some really hard issues, such as substance abuse, sexual assault and the murder and disappearance of Native women, and does it well for the most part. The plot is well done with lots of twists, solid characters that you can believe in, and you learn a lot about the main character’s culture.
Daunis is a girl between worlds, her father was an Ojibwa and her mother is white. She has faced discrimination from both sides and has had to deal with a lot in her young life. But she is strong, and resilient. She has a strong sense of family and community which will help her in her life to come. She is also smart, and knows how to handle herself in stressful situations. But she also makes some very dumb decisions, which seemed a bit out of character, but I think realistic too. Everyone makes mistakes and has to face those consequences.
The one thing I really liked about this book, was the way the author was able to weave the native traditions, politics, stories and the struggles of her community seamlessly into the narrative. Also the hockey and its importance in the community was nicely done. I learned a lot about the Ojibwa culture and language and didn’t even notice that I was.
The plot overall was good. I liked the mystery and there were some good twists that were hard to spot. The writing was a little rough in places, which hopefully will be smoothed out before publication. The pacing at times also lagged, which did hurt the narrative a little bit. There were also a few times where I was frustrated about things hinted about in Daunis’s past that were influencing her decisions, but we weren’t told what these things were until about 3/4ths of the way into the book. The romance between Daunis and Jamie didn’t entirely work for me either. I liked Jamie, but just never felt the chemistry between them jell.
Overall this was a good read. I liked the story and the characters, even with some of the rougher patches in the pacing and story. This is an author to keep eye on. I think we will continue to see great books from her.