Community Secrets: A Review of Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter
Written by Angeline Boulley
Published by Henry Holt and Co Books for Young Readers
Ages 14+
Available March 16, 2021

Daunis Fontaine has plans to leave Sault Ste. Marie, a town along the Michigan-Canada border, where she never quite fit in. Daunis is torn between her mother’s wealthy family and her father’s Ojibwe community. She has always planned to leave the town to study medicine at the University of Michigan, but when tragedy rocks her family, Daunis decides to stay home and help her mother care for her ailing grandmother. Her half-brother Levi is thrilled, as is her best friend Lily. Levi soon recruits her to help train Jamie, the newest (and cutest) hockey member in their league, and Daunis finds herself looking forward to their morning runs. Those morning runs are where she fits in the most, though she has a sense that Jamie might be spinning ‘Guy Lies,’ falsehoods Daunis is all too familiar with. The latest ‘Guy Lie’ Daunis has to deal with is from Lily’s ex—they split when he began using meth. Lately, he looks more and more desperate. When Daunis witnesses a shocking act of violence, she is plunged into the world of FBI drug investigations. Daunis goes undercover to look into meth production and distribution, but what she finds is not at all clear and threatens the different communities she is a part of. Author Angeline Boulley’s exploration of Daunis’ relationship with the Sault Ste. Marie tribal community is excellent, particularly her relationship with her father’s sister. Her admiration and wariness of her Aunt Teddie is layered and at times fraught. Daunis’ choice to work undercover with law enforcement is partially driven by her desire to protect the Ojibwe community she is a part of. Boulley’s mystery moves at a quick pace, filled with adrenaline and cliffhangers, but always with a firm grounding in Ojibwe culture. Boulley does not flinch when it comes to the issues indigenous communities face: sexual assault, addiction, and violence–as well as the historical distrust in law enforcement authorities. Daunis has a tendency to fall into black-and-white thinking, and yet Boulley gives her (and readers) issues that are not so cut and dry. Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and former director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. This #ownvoices read is a must for any collection.