Firekeeper's Daughter / Angeline Boulley / Book Review


Daunis Fontaine is caught between two worlds: the Zhaaganaash world of her mother and GrandMary and the Anishinaabe world of her Firekeeper father. She dreams of college, where she can do more than straddle a line--where she can marry her maternal quest for higher education and her paternal knowledge of traditional medicine. But before Daunis can leave home, family tragedy strikes.

To support her mother, Daunis suspends her studies and remains caught between two worlds. At least she has the chance to meet Jaime, the new superstar recruit of her brother's hockey team. Daunis and Jaime hit it off, but she senses that he's hiding something from her--from everyone. Before Daunis can figure out what he's holding back, she witnesses a shocking murder that completely upsets her world and thrusts her into a new reality, a reality in which the FBI needs her help.

Drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine, Daunis goes undercover to help save her community from a novelty drug overtaking the younger generation. But not everyone is so willing to let Daunis uncover old wounds and difficult secrets. Not everyone is willing to accept her into a world where they never quite felt she belonged.



Great Supporting Cast By their very nature, supporting characters are often relegated to the sidelines. Worldbuilding, main character development, and plot often hold more importance, but in Angeline Boulley's work, right from the start, the cast of secondary characters are strong and varied--and primarily women. Daunis's mother, grandmother, best friend, and best friend's grandmother all play predominant roles in the story and in Daunis's life.

Race and Culture This is a book steeped in First Nations culture--specifically Obijwe. This culture is tackled from multiple perspectives--from the perspective of an outsider like Jaime, from an "insider" like Daunis who has never quite been welcomed inside, and from more accepted insiders like Daunis's brother Levi. This makes the book approachable for all readers without compromising quality and intention. Ritual, tradition, hardship, superstition, family ties, food, repercussions of colonialism: all of these things are tied up in the identity of this book and its characters. Even racism and colorism come into play, with discussions on what it means to be too dark or too light for a community and what these varying shades mean to the outer world as well.

Girl in STEM Daunis is interested in pursuing science. Even when she has to put off her degree, she is interested in the science of the world around her. She is acclaimed for her past work in this field--the intermingling of the traditional medicine with mainstream chemistry. The author takes care to weave Daunis's interest into everything she does and even how she examines the world. It is great to see a character so involved in STEM. We need more girls in STEM, in literature and in reality!


It can be a little difficult to sink into this narrative at the beginning. This story is full of non-English words, concepts, and phrases, which is something I fully support. Those who have been forced to accept English by colonization shouldn't have to apologize for returning to the languages stolen from them. However, when presented in a print medium to a primarily English-speaking population, the context clues should be there to help readers to make sense of the narrative--especially if the given language is unfortunately difficult to translate on its own. Though the meanings become clear as one continues to read, the opening pages can be a bit difficult because that context is a bit insufficient. Lack of Context Clues

c u 2mrw? I mean, I know this book is set in 2004. I know that text culture and language has changed significantly in the past decade and a half. But boy is the texting painful to read! Overly "Text Speak" Texting

This book takes its time to set up the world, the characters, and the setting before ultimately diving into the plot. It is a slow read, and this slowness allows the author to really pull readers into the world and lives of the characters. That is undeniably a good thing. When it takes about a quarter of the book for the plot to really begin, however, some people will find the slow-burn t00 slow. I think it was worth it in the end, but others might not agree. Slow Burn



Those who loved Aiden Thomas's Cemetery Boys should take a look at this new book immersed in culture and identity. Those who enjoyed the real-world investigation of Courtney Summers's The Project should check out this gritty new thriller.


Publisher: Henry, Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: March 16, 2021
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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