Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley – Henry, Holt and Co – Published 16 March 2021
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for 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, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
Firekeeper’s Daughter is going to be one of THE books of 2021. If this isn’t on your radar yet, put it on there RIGHT NOW. #OwnVoices #DiverseBooks this book ticks all the boxes but it is so much more than just a book that is timely and Important (with a capital I). It is addictive and so powerful. I was hooked right from the start.
Daunis makes a great narrator. She is torn between two worlds – one her mother’s, old money and white, and her late father’s Firekeeper family from the Ojibwe reservation. When she meets the new player on her half-brother’s ice hockey team, Jamie, she is drawn to him but knows he has to remain off limits. She never wants to be ‘that’ girl. But when tragedy strikes, Daunis is shattered and her beliefs about her community rocked. Jamie is there for her and seems to understand exactly what is going on – more than can be explained. When Daunis is asked to go undercover to expose the horror that is destroying her community, she learns far more than she could have expected.
I love mystery novels. Love, love them and I also love contemporary novels that focus on family and relationships. This book is the perfect mix of both. This book reminds me of a book I read years ago and after reading it I searched desperately for something similar, something that mixed mystery and investigating with romance and and complex relationships. Years on, I have finally found the book I didn’t know I needed and it is even better than I could have imagined.
Native American culture and family is so important to this book. I loved the use of the Ojibwe language and practices, but more than this there is an authenticity that seeps through every page, that I can only assume reflects the author’s own story. I so wish there were more books like this and I beg you to ensure this is on every school library’s shelves.
Firekeeper’s Daughter doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of life. Drugs, death, betrayal, sexual assault, racism – there are lots of trigger warnings to be aware of (see my content warning below), as well as mature content, so I’ll be recommending this to mature readers. It makes for a raw and compelling story.
Daunis brings her knowledge of science and tribal medicines to the story, which brings such a great element to the story. She is also an athlete, a daughter, a niece, a sister. She is still emotionally reeling from a past relationship and unsure where a new relationship with Jamie could take her and the risks it brings. She is strong and fierce, smart and investigates with caution and heart – mindful of the impacts what she uncovers will have to her community. She could never foresee the great personal cost to herself, I’m so many ways and it just broke my head.
Firekeeper’s Daughter is a book that had me laughing and smiling and then sobbing. It’s fun and beautiful and utterly heartbreaking, throwing sucker punches when I least expected it. While the ending is certainly not a happily ever after – when in life is it ever so?- it is far more realistic and still hopeful, leaving me with a bittersweet feeling where I just had to sit and absorb the epicness that is this book.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Family, Native American, drugs, romance, ice hockey, death, grief, investigations, mystery, detective, FBI,
Reading age guide: Ages 15 and up.
Advisory: Drugs, drug use, abuse, addiction and violence. Death, grief and loss. Violence – abuse, gun violence and death. Sexual assault with some details. Sexual references, sex scenes with some details and references to sexual relationships. Coarse language, f-12, sh-46, as-8, bit-4, sl-2, pi’s-17
Representation: Native American main characters and secondary characters, biracial main character, heterosexual relationships, white secondary characters.
Published: 16 March 2021 by Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.