We're changing it up here in fantasy land. I've read the most amazing contemporary OwnVoices book and I just HAVE to share it with you all!
Please read on for my review of Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley. This debut novel is a FANTASTIC, amazing YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for 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, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
"Some boats are for the river and some are for the ocean."
This book was just amazing, pure and simple. It follows Daunis, an Ojibwe teenager, as she works with the FBI to investigate a lethal new drug, all the while managing her own grief and emotions. The book is YA, but on the upper edges of the genre, and reads as a standalone mystery novel.
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be "beautiful." This book is just phenomenal. I typically don't read contemporary fiction (I'm admittedly a fantasy reader), but I devoured this book in one sitting. The plot is engaging, the characters are relatable, and the struggles faced throughout the book are realistic.
The commentary on Native American tribal dynamics is poignant, uncomfortable, and NEEDED. The descriptions by Boulley are insightful, detailed, and beautifully written. The difficulties faced by tribal members, including drugs, sexual assault, and general bigotry is so relevant and I'm so glad it wasn't glossed over or romanticized. This story stuck with me and hurt in the best ways for days.
The characters are beautiful and flawed and so well developed. Daunis is a robust character, with understandable and relatable emotions and motivations. She is such a great person. A great daughter, sister, and friend.
I highly, highly recommend this read to everyone. Even if you're like me and don't typically read contemporary, you NEED to read this book.
There is non-graphic sexual assault, drug use, and drug related death in this story, so if this is upsetting to you, please be prepared going in to this story.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy. This released on yesterday on March 16th, and EVERYONE should go read this!
Have you read this one? Let me know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading!