Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley | Book Review

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley | Book ReviewFirekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Published by Henry Holt and Company (BYR) on March 16, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / Indigenous, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / General
Pages: 320
Format: eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon


An Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller

Soon to be adapted at Netflix for TV with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground.

“One of this year's most buzzed about young adult novels.” —Good Morning America

A TIME Magazine Best YA Book of All Time Selection
Amazon's Best YA Book of 2021 So Far (June 2021)
A 2021 Kids' Indie Next List Selection
An Entertainment Weekly Most Anticipated Books of 2021 Selection
A PopSugar Best March 2021 YA Book Selection

With four starred reviews, Angeline Boulley's debut novel, Firekeeper's Daughter, is a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, perfect 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.

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.


#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.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.