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Firekeeper’s Daughter

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Daunis Fontaine is the product of a teen pregnancy; her parents never married, and her father died when she was young. Her mother comes from a wealthy, influential white family, while her father was a member of an Ojibwe tribe. She doesn’t fit in well on either side, and she isn’t an enrolled member of her tribe. But she holds her Native American traditions sacred, having been encouraged by her mother to learn, and taught by her aunt.

Daunis’s future is bright; she’s smart and hard-working, eager to get to college. But she’s put going away on hold for the year because her uncle recently died, and her grandmother (both on her mom’s side) is in a care facility after having a stroke. She’s worried about her and what may come next.

But she has her half-brother for support. He’s only a few months younger than she is. Levi is popular, well-liked, a talented member of the hockey team. She also has her best friend, Lily. Both live on the reservation, along with her aunt and other Ojibwe relatives. And she has just met a new member of the hockey team, Jamie, who’s new to the area and also part-Native American. They get along well and start running together.

It’s the early 2000s, and drugs, particularly methamphetamine, are causing problems in northern Michigan, including on the reservation. After Daunis witnesses a horrible murder, she is drawn into an investigation by the FBI. She reluctantly agrees to be an informant to find out who is supplying the drugs to the young people on the reservation.

She knows it’s going to be dangerous, but it gets far more so than she expected. And the lies are piling up everywhere she turns; it’s difficult to navigate life.

Firekeeper’s Daughter is in part a young adult romance; it’s a mystery/suspense/thriller, as Daunis and her FBI handlers try to find the culprit(s) in the drug-making and -selling business. It’s an excellent window into the lives of Native Americans, especially in the region of northern Michigan and nearby Canada where the book is set (and where the author is from). It delves deeply into the problem of drugs and alcohol. It mentions several times that native children were removed from their families and taken away to schools where they were mistreated. It also touches on how native women are far too often the victims of sexual assaults and other violence, and they usually don’t get justice from the government. It’s heartbreaking and tragic. It’s all wrapped up in quite a package. I could hardly put it down. Strongly recommend.

Rated: High. Profanity includes 12 uses of strong language, around 70 instances of moderate profanity, almost 50 uses of mild language, and fewer than 10 instances of the name of Deity in vain. Sexual content includes kissing, removing clothes, sex that is alluded to, and some mostly “off-screen.” There are numerous references to drug use. Violence includes a rape scene that has few details and references to other sexual assaults occurring or having happened. There are several deaths related to drugs, several shooting deaths. There are fights and blood drawn.

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Firekeeper’s Daughter


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