“Love honors your spirit. Not just the other person’s but your own spirit too.”Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley
In Summary of Firekeeper’s Daughter
Daunis Fontaine is an 18-year-old, Ojibwe member (biracial and unenrolled) that is trying to find her place within her community. Although life isn’t easy for Daunis, she finds joy in her friends, community, and hockey. However, there is something strange about a new recruit on her brother’s hockey team and she must figure out his secret by undergoing the trauma of witnessing a murder. From there, she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous investigation that extends farther than this particular incident. As the summary on Goodreads states best, “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.”
WARNING: rape, murder, addiction, drug abuse/overdose, domestic violence, generational trauma, gun violence
READ IF YOU LIKE: mystery/thrillers/suspense, slow-burn plots, learning about Native American culture, crime investigations
|Single point-of-view (I’ve missed this style!)||Too long; some details and descriptions unnecessary or repetitive|
|Detailed characterization brings characters to life||The label of Young Adult Fiction (YA) shows through in dialogue, but not in content; better for mature YA|
|Immersion into cultural information, practices, and history; plus, representation for Native American women|
“It wasn’t just generational trauma that got stored in our blood and passed along, but our resilience and language too.”
Firekeeper’s Daughter is honestly a difficult book to review, but one that I think is important for so many people to read.
Let’s break it down.
- This book is LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG. Maybe not world-building-epic-fantasy long, but long and dense. It’s filled with dialogue, the building of characters and slow-burn plot development, and cultural elements. While all of these pieces combine to create the book as it is, I do feel that some things could replace others for a better balance.
- What I wished there was more of: cultural background and explanations
- What I wish there was less of: unnecessary dialogue, repetitive interactions, not as much focus on the relationship (which is inappropriate for several reasons, which I’ll get to in a bit)
2. Firekeeper’s Daughter has a focus on hockey, which is certainly elemental to the cultural interest of the tribe and the setting (Lake Superior area of Michigan). For some people, reading about sports teams and games is fun; unfortunately, this is where I lose interest. I found myself skimming these parts. If you like sports content, you will love this!
3. The relationship between Daunis (senior in high school) and Jamie (new guy in town but with a twist) is one that I cannot agree with. Daunis discovers he is 22 years old, and he is holding a secret that puts himself at a higher power-advantage in relation to Daunis. These two things make me uncomfortable, especially considering that I would not recommend that type of relationship for my high school students. Maybe this is my teacher brain speaking, but this situation seems difficult to condone in YA fiction, especially since teenage readers may be impressionable.
4. The cultural content. Wow, oh, wow. Now THIS is what I was here for.
Firekeeper’s Daughter brings important issues facing Ojibwe and other Native American tribes – especially for the women – including addiction, unjust jurisdiction, reservation life, impacts of colonization on native culture, poverty, and more. This book provides a whole new perspective on what affects a community and the long-term effects of oppression on Native American tribes. Daunis is a strong, young woman that deserves all of the recognition she can get as a character!
Let me know what you think about this unique read!
Firekeeper’s Daughter Book Information
- Published: 2021
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
- ISBN: 978-1250766564
- Format: Hardback (purchased through Book of the Month)
- Length: 496 pages