Trigger warnings for racism, death of a loved one, rape, and drug use.
Eighteen-year-old Daunis’ mixed heritage has always made her feel like an outsider, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation, and after a family tragedy puts her college plans on hold, the only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. But when she witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to be part of a covert FBI operation into a series of drug-related deaths. But the deceptions – and deaths – keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. Now Daunis must decide 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.
While Firekeeper’s Daughter is certainly a mystery, it is definitely a slow burn one and it’s the characters and the relationships that are more of the focus of the story. It’s more a story of culture, identity, and belonging with Daunis trying to find a place for herself and dealing with her grief even as she is trying to learn enough to stop anyone else from getting hurt. The grief Daunis feels is palpable and is almost like a shadow over the whole novel as she tries to work her way through it and understand that different people deal with grief in different ways. Daunis has lost a lot of people she cared about and how she tries to compartmentalise it all is very relatable.
Daunis as a character doesn’t really have an arc as such. She’s always been a good and caring person, but it’s as her world shifts as she learns more about the people in the community she grew up with, that her world-view has to change to accept these new truths. She has always been sure of who she is in terms of her heritage with a white mother and Ojibwe father and she’s always felt connected to her people, it’s just that almost everyone else has seen her as one or the other, never both – or they see her as not good enough to be one or the other. (more…)