Although this month's theme was supposed to be about how our writing has been informed by our home life and how we have mined our past for stories, I’m going to forego the walk down memory lane. Suffice it to say, everything I’ve ever written has its roots in a rich and dysfunctional past, lol. The same can be said for most of what I read. So, instead of further discussing my own twisted tale of woe, I’d like to offer a random book recommendation.
Firekeepers Daughter, if you haven’t read it yet, is my new favorite YA novel and the best thing I’ve read (or listened to) this year. I downloaded the audiobook on the recommendation of a teacher who loves to read about social justice issues and books with diverse characters. I was not disappointed!
Debut author Angeline Boulley does an amazing job immersing the reader in details of tribal life and the hardships faced living on a Reservation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the early 2000's.
The writing is intelligent, authentic, and captivating, and the narration was beautifully done! (Huge kudos to narrator Isabella Star LaBlanc, who gets the teen voices, inflections, and emotion just right). I loved hearing the Ojibwa language and learning about tribal culture and history. With some quirky characters thrown in and a heroine to be admired, the author paints a picture that shows the depth and understanding of someone who herself is a tribal member of the Chippewa Indians and has been a Director of Indian Education at the local level and at the US Department of Education. She writes with first hand knowledge and experience that takes the reader on an in-depth journey into tribal life. We have so much to learn from the wisdom of Native peoples. I came away from this book with a new understanding and even greater appreciation for our Native brothers and sisters.
FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER is a YA novel with some mature, gritty, and important subject matter (meth addiction, missing indigenous women/girls, sexual assault, corruption, the difficulties of navigating tribal ancestry, and the importance of community), but I would say this book is appropriate for mature teen readers (13+) and a heck of a great story for those looking for a smart, action packed, wonderfully written, emotional read.
The novel’s plot centers on Daunis Fontaine, an 18-year-old girl who is half white and half Ojibwe who often feels torn between cultures. Her dreams of playing college hockey are dashed when an injury keeps her sidelined and a family tragedy derails her plans to leave home. When she witnesses a murder and goes undercover for the FBI, Daunis uses her smarts, tenacity, and innate courage to unravel the case, putting herself and the ones she loves at grave risk. I won’t give away any more, but there is a romance, plenty of heart wrenching family drama, and a good amount of mystery and suspense.
A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read! Highly recommend…
Write on and read on, friends!
Have you read any good YA novels lately?
Peace and blessings,