Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

“My girl, some boats are for the river and some are for the ocean. And there are some who can go anywhere because they always know the way home.”

Firekeeper’s Daughter is a coming-of-age story about a geeky bad*** girl – Daunis. It’s one of the most amazing YA debut novels I’ve read in a while! Though a book I’d definitely place under the category of a genre-bender, it’s a thriller, a murder mystery, a love story and all this with a lot of DA vibes… basically everything you’d want in a book!

Duanis’ life changes drastically when her uncle David dies under suspicious circumstances, followed by the sudden hospitalization of her grandmother for the last couple of months. While she tries to navigate through all this and take back control, she has a routine to help her through. She begins her day by offering semaa then goes through human anatomy in her extended version of a warm-up before her five-mile run and ends it by visiting her grandmother and mother at the hospital as part of her “new normal”.

But as Daunis is waiting and even hoping for the normal part of the “new normal” to begin, another tragedy hits her already shaken world. A tragedy which throws Daunis into a “newer new normal” where she must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect her community and the ones that she loves as she agrees to become an informant for a covert FBI operation.

The narrative is – quoting @erins_library – “unapologetically Anishinaabe” which makes it so much more impactful! The depiction of the Anishinaabe people, their culture and traditions was a pleasure to read and learn about through the entire course of this novel. Angeline Boulley has allowed her reader’s to take a plunge into the Anishinaabe community without abandoning the plot or the characters and moreover without making it overwhelming to read.

Daunis is definitely my new favourite character. Daunis and Jamie are definitely my new favourite fictional couple. Despite the book being categorized as YA, I am pleasantly surprised as to how balanced and non-cringe the entire narrative is through the maturity depicted by Daunis’ character. The plot is unpredictable and the fast paced narrative helped me remain glued to the book.

Another fascinating thing I’d like to draw your attention to is the cover of the book, which like the entire novel is brilliantly thought through and you might miss it if you don’t pay close attention: start by noticing the overall butterfly like formation which signifies good luck, further down towards the middle you’ll notice a wolf which represents protection or you may also see it as a fox which represents misfortune and lastly towards the tip of the wings you’ll see an eagle which holds great significance when it comes to honouring and healing other people, it is also the messenger of the Anishinaabe people. All these elements put together make for a phenomenal representation of the story as a whole, which I highly recommend that you read!

I’d rate Firekeeper’s Daughter with 5 out of 5 bookmarks. It is a wholesome book which will shatter you heart but towards the end also leaves it feeling full. A story of a community which heals from the ill effects of a corrupted system, subtly yet clearly addressing the various issues of social injustice while giving representation to the Ojibwa culture.

I’d like to thank Rock the Boat Publications for sending the ARC for this phenomenal book which comes out in March this year and chii miigwech to the author for writing this story. N’Angeline, ndeh gidowaa.

CW: meth addiction, grief, rape

About the author

I am Surbhi Sinha aka The Urban Reader from India. A city girl and a regular customer of the world's wordsmiths. I enjoy exploring and living several lives while reading books. A girl who tries to reflect the beauty of simplicity, appreciates the extraordinary magic woven in stories and enjoys exploring the cities. I eagerly look forward to sharing my adventures with you.

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