Some books are hard to define, and Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley is one of them – part thriller, mystery, love story, indigenous fiction, and cultural commentary, Firekeeper’s Daughter grabbed me by the throat and pulled me along at breakneck speed.
Daunis is stuck between cultures. Her father was an Ojibwe hockey player from Sugar Island whose career ended before it began after a tragic accident. Her mother is from one of Sault St. Marie’s most prominent families and her grandmother was less than thrilled by their relationship. Daunis herself was a high school hockey star, playing on the boy’s team. After graduation, she planned to go to Michigan State and pursue a medical career, but when her maternal grandmother suffered a stroke and lingered near death, Daunis decides to go to the local community college with her friend Lily. She isn’t heartbroken by the change of plans, after all, she’ll be able to hang out with her best friend – plus there’s a new hockey player in town, Jamie, who intrigues her. But as she gets to know Jamie, she begins to wonder if he is who he claims to be.
When several Anishinaabe teens have a hallucinogenic experience after taking meth, Daunis is recruited by the FBI. Daunis is smart, and with a foot in both the hockey world and the Anishinaabe community, she’s a useful tool for the FBI.
I listened to the audiobook version of Firekeeper’s Daughter and I’m so glad that I did. The cadence of the Anishinaabe elder’s speech, the pronunciation of many Anishinaabe words, and the propulsive action of the story made my time on the road fly by. I did not want the book to end. Boulley’s a master storyteller and she weaves in powerful cultural traditions and beliefs. I learned so much from this book – Boulley’s debut was billed as a young adult novel – but the breadth and depth of the novel make it a book for all ages.
Drury Lane Books, Cook County Library, and Cook County Higher Ed have partnered together to make Firekeeper’s Daughter the community read for September. There will be a potluck and discussion on September 29 at 5:30 pm at Cook County Higher Education. You still have time to read the book – or listen to the audiobook and join in the discussion.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. Listen to my author interviews on the fourth Thursday of every month at 7:00 pm.