Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley | Book Review

Immediately after reading Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, I knew that I needed to buy a copy to have on my shelves. To me, this story was a keeper. Boulley’s debut is a triumph and I am so excited for what is sure to be an amazing career. This book also reminded me that I do not read nearly enough Indigenous own voices books and I should work to rectify that. There was so much that I learned, but also that I felt, while reading this stunning book.

Firekeeper’s Daughter is about Daunis, a young woman who is about to turn 19 who has her whole life ahead of her. Daunis is a bright young woman who straddles two worlds – she has her white Fontaine family which is very prominent in Saulte St. Marie. Then she has her Ojibwe family, the Firekeepers, who also happen to be prominent Anishinaabe. Unfortunately, Daunis is not tribally enrolled, her father’s name is not on her birth certificate. Still, she loves her tribe and truly respects the elders. However, Daunis is not fully immersed in either world.

Life becomes a lot more complicated for Daunis when she witnesses a murder. She’s pulled in by the FBI and acts as a confidential informant. You see, meth is running rampant and destroying members of Daunis’s tribe. Kids on different reservations have gotten sick from it. Daunis wants to get to the bottom of it — as a way of finding justice for the person murdered – as well as keeping the kids safe. Oh and also, this story has a significant amount of hockey.

Daunis is a force. When we talk about a master class in characterization, we should be talking about Boulley’s writing and handling of Daunis. I found it to be thoughtful and careful. Firekeeper’s Daughter is very much character driven. If you came to the book expecting it to be entirely plot driven, well, you came to the wrong place. Yes, there is the thriller aspect of the FBI and the drug ring.

More important to me, though, was Daunis’s coming of age and her exploration of her identity. We learned so much about inherited trauma, about the injustices faced by Indigenous women. The book touches upon boarding schools. Additionally, there are even themes of colorism. Through it all, Daunis grows — even through the pain. I’ll admit, there are absolutely triggers in this book so tread with care particularly if rape, domestic violence, drug use, or murder are triggers for you as well as racism.

I do want to end and point out that this book is set in the fall of 2004. I am really old, so for me, that time period was the beginning of my senior year. For Daunis, it is the beginning of her first year as a freshman in community college. The time period setting really rang true for me. I remember Blackberries and texting being a thing around then. There’s use of technology in the book for sure, but at this point, in 2004, it wasn’t QUITE as intense as it is now. So, based upon my memories, so much of this book with regards to time was authentic.

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#Inverted Firekeeper’s Daughter @fiercereads #k18hairflip #MyPlayoffPicks #smallbooktoker #momsofbooktok #over30booktok

♬ YouTube-like cute sound – RYOpianoforte

On the whole, I am so glad that I don’t really make a best of list in my head until after I am genuinely done for the year. If I had said nope everything before December, then I would have missed out on considering Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter as one of the best books I’ve read in 2021 – and that my friends – would have been a travesty.


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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