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Reviews of Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper's Daughter

by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley X
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2021, 496 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2023, 496 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Althea Draper
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About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the 2021 BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel

In Firekeeper's Daughter, debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, 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.

CHAPTER 1

I start my day before sunrise, throwing on running clothes and laying a pinch of semaa at the eastern base of a tree, where sunlight will touch the tobacco first. Prayers begin with offering semaa and sharing my Spirit name, clan, and where I am from. I always add an extra name to make sure Creator knows who I am. A name that connects me to my father—because I began as a secret, and then a scandal.

I give thanks to Creator and ask for zoongidewin, because I'll need courage for what I have to do after my five-mile run. I've put it off for a week.

The sky lightens as I stretch in the driveway. My brother complains about my lengthy warm-up routine whenever he runs with me. I keep telling Levi that my longer, bigger, and therefore vastly superior muscles require more intensive preparation for peak performance. The real reason, which he would think is dorky, is that I recite the correct anatomical name for each muscle as I stretch. Not just the superficial muscles, but the ...

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  • award image

    BookBrowse Awards
    2021

  • award image

    Edgar Awards
    2022

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Despite being almost 500 pages, the novel never drags, but keeps a slow and sustained pace. This adds an extra layer to what would otherwise just be your average thriller, as it allows the reader to truly digest every new piece of information that comes to light and become fully immersed in the world of the book. However, the faster-paced, more adrenaline-filled chapters will have you on the edge of your seat...continued

Full Review (691 words)

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(Reviewed by Althea Draper).

Media Reviews

BookPage (starred review)
Though Firekeeper’s Daughter contains gripping action sequences and gasp-inducing twists, it’s Daunis’ mission of self-discovery, which begins as a low and steady growl and grows to a fierce, proud roar, that has the most impact...Though it both shocks and thrills, in the end, what leaves you breathless is Firekeeper’s Daughter’s blazing heart.

NPR
[An] absolute powerhouse of a debut.

Booklist (starred review)
Boulley, herself an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, writes from a place of love for her community and shares some key teachings from her culture, even mixing languages within the context of the story. She doesn't shy away from or sugar-coat the very real circumstances that plague reservations across the country, and she tackles these through her biracial hero who gets involved in the criminal investigation into the corruption that led to this pain. An incredible thriller, not to be missed.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[T]his wonderfully tribally specific story offers powerful messages about what it can mean to be an Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman)...Hitting hard when it comes to issues such as citizenship, language revitalization, and the corrosive presence of drugs on Native communities, this novel will long stand in the hearts of both Native and non-Native audiences.

Kirkus Reviews
Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what's going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief. A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

School Library Journal
A character-driven crime thriller packed with Ojibwe culture and high-stakes tension with themes of identity, trust, and resilience.

Author Blurb Courtney Summers, New York Times-bestselling author of Sadie
Firekeeper's Daughter is a gripping and unforgettable story of family, community and identity told through the eyes of a protagonist so powerfully realized on the page, you'll swear you can hear her heart beat. Daunis Fontaine is a force to be reckoned with?and so is Angeline Boulley. This is one bold, uncompromising and elegantly crafted debut.

Author Blurb Francisco X. Stork, acclaimed author of Marcelo in the Real World and Illegal
A rare and mesmerizing work that blends the power of a vibrant tradition with the aches and energy of today's America. This book will leave you breathless!

Author Blurb Tochi Onyebuchi, award-winning author of Beasts Made of Night and Riot Baby
Intricate and moving. Boulley takes the reader on an incredible journey with the assurance of a veteran novelist.

Reader Reviews

Mohd afroz

Very nice book
A very nice book.
techeditor

A Crossover YA Novel
FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER is billed as a young adult novel. I'm an adult and YA novels usually bore me. But FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER didn't. As a matter of fact, it kept me reading late into the night. What a pleasant surprise! Told in first person by ...   Read More
Alhana Shoaib

Firekeeper's Daughter
18-year-old American bi-racial Daunis Fontaine has an Ojibwe father who is deceased and a white mother. She believes that she doesn't belong with either the Sugar Island Ojibwe Tribe or her white peers because of her mixed ancestry. As an unenrolled ...   Read More
Tony C.

Will Keep You Guessing
"Firekeeper's Daughter" by Angeline Boulley tells the story of meth processing in the Native American community. They have a strong sense of values and history and tell their children to think seven generations ahead when making decisions. ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Muskiiki: The Four Sacred Ojibwe Medicines

In Firekeeper's Daughter, Daunis is interested in how her fellow Ojibwe tribe members use medicinal herbs. She chooses to study pre-med courses and plant biology at college so that she may go on to study ethnobotany through an indigenous lens, and also learns directly from her tribe's Elders.

Traditional medicine is an important part of Ojibwe culture. The four sacred medicines, or Muskiiki, are used both in everyday practices as well as in ceremonies and on special occasions. Each of these sacred medicines has a place on the Ojibwe medicine wheel, a system that interconnects various teachings related to aspects of the world. For example, each medicine corresponds with a direction — tobacco with the east, sweetgrass with the north...

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