Review: Firekeeper's Daughter

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a powerful and layered debut novel, Angeline Boulley has created a moving #ownvoices story about a young Native American woman whose life straddles two worlds- that of her everyday hometown in the Sugar Island/Sault Saint Marie area and the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Not currently enrolled among the Sugar Island Ojibwe because of a complicated family situation, Daunis Fontaine doesn't quite fit in with her father's Firekeeper family. The Fontaine family of her mother has been coping with a shocking recent loss. Daunis has recently taken a pass on going off to college and, for reasons revealed over time, a possible hockey career, to stay home with her mom. Distraction from her cares arrives when a young man named Jamie arrives in town with his uncle and joins Daunis's half-brother Levi's hockey team. Yet as Daunis finds herself drawn to Jamie, her every instinct tells her that something about him, and about the whole situation surrounding him, isn't what it seems. When a friend is murdered and the local police and FBI appear to be investigating the town, Daunis's life turns into a maelstrom that alters her perception of everyone she thinks she knows.

One of the best things about Boulley's novel is that, while it tells a moving story, it also paints a picture of Native American culture that we don't often see- the complications and politics of being enrolled in a tribe, the financial advantages, some of the downsides of those advantages, and most of all it shows the often violent conditions Native American women face- from domestic abuse to sexual assault to murder. Even the healthcare Daunis received left me with questions. While this is a novel marketed as a YA suspense novel, I think there's a rich story for adults interested in Native American culture, as well.

This is such a polished, tightly written novel and I'd eagerly pick up whatever Angeline Boulley puts her pen to next.

The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Isabella Star Lablanc.

CW: addiction, domestic violence, murder, overdose, rape, sexual assault

I received a digital audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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