When I added Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley to my wishlist, I’d thought that it was a fantasy book. It’s not. It’s actually a contemporary! (well some would call it historical fiction, but it’s set in 2004 so I refuse thnx) But I didn’t know that till I picked it up, and for once I’m so so glad.
I’m glad because I would never have normally picked a contemporary up! And yet here I am, with one of my favourite books of the year already! This is an absolutely fantastic read.
I adored the integration of Ojibwe words without constant explanation. There is some, so I’m sure anyone who speaks Ojibwe will find it a little pushy, but it’s not constant and there are points where you’re left to figure out the meaning yourself. I like that. It’s how we naturally learn language and it also reduces the amount of pandering that the book would otherwise be doing.
There is a romance plot within this book, and whilst I was reading it I’d thought that it was an obvious romantic set-up. Boulley managed to twist up my expectations and I actually really enjoyed where it went by the end of the book! It’s also not the main focus of the book, and instead a subplot (which I prefer).
The character relationships within the book are fantastic. I almost cried only 100 pages in due to a plot twist, and given that this is a 500 page book that’s pretty damn impressive. Their relationships, between friends, neighbours, family, is established so well so quickly into the book. It’s impressively done. It means that Boulley was able to delve deeply into her plot points with this network of a community that she built.
This book of course covers a lot of topics that are known to be issues in various Native communities. Drug use, police manipulation, sexual assault, alienation of those not “fully” Native, and more. Boulley weaves so much into this narrative and yet nothing feels brushed over. Nothing feels rushed. Everything is given the time that it deserves within this book.
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 10, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 which gives a score of 9.14 and a 5* rating!
This book got me crying deeply by the end, and in the middle, and near the beginning. It’s just… it’s just so well written. I felt so much for these characters. It’s an absolutely beautiful book and one I adore that is now on my shelves.
Please highlight here to check out the trigger warnings, they’re quite rough in this so check them if you need them: alcoholism, colourism, death, drug overdose (mentioned), drug use (meth), grief, kidnapping, murder, physical abuse, racism, rape, sexual assault, suicide, violence
If you can manage the trigger warnings though, I highly, highly recommend this book. It’s a new favourite of mine, couldn’t you tell?