by Anna Goetzman
“Wisdom is not bestowed. In its raw state, it is the heartbreak of knowing things you wish you didn’t.”
The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley was undoubtedly one of most entrancing and gripping novels I have ever read. The story surrounds eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine, the daughter of a wealthy, white mother and a flighty, Native hockey player. In this novel, you get a look into Daunis’s struggle with her identity as she has never felt wholly accepted into either side of her family due to their extreme differences in culture and tradition. She feels a deep, bonded connection to her Native American heritage, but is white passing and unable to become a member of her tribe. Desperately seeking a sense of belonging, she dreams of getting out of her hometown and pursuing her education and love of sports at college. That is until she witnesses the murder of her best friend and is by extension thrown into a new and unexpected role, helping undercover detectives find out who is trafficking meth within the tribe.
I picked this book up, first being drawn in by its colorful cover art and second being intrigued by the lack of description on the book. Pages in I was already hooked and in utter amazement by this book. Angeline Boulley herself grew up as part of the Ojibwe tribe, so the writing feels authentic and natural. Boulley shows her readers so much about the beauty and heart of the Ojibwe tribe’s beliefs and history, but she also brings awareness to the amount of tragedy Indigenous people have faced and continue to face. There were several moments I forgot I was reading because her descriptions paint this story so vividly that a reader definitely feels within it. Boulley created such an enjoyable character in Daunis. She has faced a large amount of loss that puts her wisdom well beyond eighteen years; she is independent, mature, intelligent, and strong. The Firekeeper’s Daughter has many layers. It is not just an exceptional read, it is informative, eye-opening, heartbreaking, light and funny at times, visceral and vivid at others. Boulley handles the sensitive topics of addiction, sexual assault, abuse, and grief in the most professional and graceful way. I simply could not recommend this book more than I do. It offers a great story as well as information and awareness that needs to be more widely understood.