Wednesday, March 10, 2021

ARC Review: Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper's Daughter

Angeline Boulley
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 16, 2021)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: Daunis Fontaine is a young woman pulled between cultures. She is the illegitimate daughter of a White mother and Ojibwe father. Her mother was sixteen when she was born and her White grandparents didn't want her to have anything to do with her father's people. Her mother rebelled and made sure that Daunis knew her father's family. While Daunis loves her grandparents, she also loves and honors her Native family and its traditions.

Daunis has just graduated from high school and had intended to leave home for the University of Michigan to begin her studies to be a doctor. But her Uncle David has recently died and her GrandMary has suffered a stroke which has left her mother in a very fragile state of mind. Daunis has changed her plans and is now going to attend the nearby community college with her best friend Lily in order to stay at home and take care of her mother. 

Only plans change again when her friend Lily is killed by Lily's ex Travis who has become a meth head and who then kills himself. Daunis and her new friend Jamie are quick to come upon the scene. There she learns that her new fried is an undercover cop sent to investigate the growing meth problem on the reservation. Lily agrees to become a confidential informant to try to get to the bottom of the drug problem on the Rez. Her knowledge of chemistry and her in with both the Whites and the Natives puts her in a powerful position to be of help. But it also puts her in a position to learn a number of secrets that she would prefer not to know.

This excellent story is filled with information about Ojibwe beliefs and rituals and culture. It is also a great depiction of the hockey culture of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. An it is an excellent mystery/thriller that kept me guessing about the whole situation. Along the way there is a growing love story between Daunis and Jamie that was filled with much more than the usual "getting to know you" of a normal relationship.

It was wonderful watching Daunis grow into her own power as a strong Native woman and decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life. 

Favorite Quote:
When someone dies, everything about them becomes past tense. Except for the grief. Grief stays in the present. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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