Margin Notes

FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY

Feb
08

I am a frozen statue of a girl in the woods. Only my eyes move, darting from the gun to their startled expression.

Gun. Shock. Gun. Disbelief. Gun. Fear.

THA-THUM-THA-THUM-THA-THUM.

The snub-nosed revolver shakes with tiny tremors from the jittery hand aiming at my face.

                I’m gonna die.

                My nose twitches at a greasy sweetness. Familiar. Vanilla and mineral oil. WD-40. Someone used it to clean the gun. More scents: pine, damp moss, skunky sweat, and cat pee.

                THA-THUM-THA-THUM-THA-THUM.

                The jittery hand makes a hacking motion with the gun, as if wielding a machete instead. Each diagonal slice toward the ground gives me hope. Better a random target than me.

                But then terror grips my heart again. The gun. Back at my face.

                Mom. She won’t survive my death. One bullet will kill us both.

                A brave hand reaches for the gun. Fingers outstretched.

Demanding. Give it. Now.

                THA-THUM-THA-

                I am thinking of my mother when the blast changes everything.”

Angeline Boulley’s debut novel Firekeeper’s Daughter shares the story of Daunis Fontaine, the daughter of a local Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) hockey hero and a rich girl from the right side of the river. Daunis has had difficulty her entire life fitting in and feeling accepted by both communities she ferries between.  As I settled into this novel, I was convinced I was reading a coming-of-age story about how Daunis will find her place within her two families and succeed in her desire to become a doctor. I could not have been more wrong! While Daunis does endeavor to discover who she is, this book becomes so much more…a murder mystery entangled in organized crime, a love story, and at the same time, a beautiful reflection of indigenous teachings.

Boulley crafts her text with carefully layered hints that have the reader speculating who is behind the murders and distribution of crystal meth at the centre of the community’s heartache. She develops characters that are strong, loyal, and mysterious.  Daunis finds herself embroiled in the mystery and using both her traditional indigenous teachings and her uncle’s scientific method to find the killers.  Will she succeed?

Due to mature language and themes this book is matched best to older readers. I highly recommend Firekeeper’s Daughter for grade 11 or 12 classroom libraries.

To learn more about Angeline Boulley and Firekeeper’s Daughter click here.

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