There is very little fiction out there featuring Native and Indigenous characters so this book immediately jumped out at me. (I’m not the only one – apparently there was a bidding war for the rights, with the Obama’s production company eventually winning out with plans to bring it to Netflix as a series.) Author Angeline Boulley has been working on this YA novel for a decade, and it shows. Depictions of Native rites and rituals are seamlessly incorporated into the story without feeling didactic, a testament to the fact that Boulley has lived these experiences and is an active participant in the community. But this novel excels not just because it’s bringing some much needed representation to the YA book world. It’s a great read because it’s packed with action and addresses the most common issue facing teens: identity.
Daunis Fontaine has always been trying to find her place between her mother’s wealthy white family and her father’s Native community. She participates in most of the Ojibwe activities, but she’s not enrolled as a tribal member and will therefore always be somewhat on the outside. What she does know is that she can play hockey with the best on the boys’ team and is a science whiz. She’s set to do big things. With her grandmother’s health declining, her uncle recently passing away, and her mother single, Daunis has decided to stay local and attend community college rather than attend University of Michigan as originally planned. Since it will mean remaining close to her half brother and best friend, she doesn’t mind. But after witnessing a murder and getting roped into an FBI investigation that involves meth and local corruption, Daunis’ low key community college lifestyle gets turned on its head.
I enjoyed seeing teen struggles through the lens of a different community. I also appreciated that this novel didn’t shy away from very real issues plaguing our country in 2004 (and today). With Daunis’ first person, present tense narration, you get a truer picture of how these issues plagued a specific community.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: Jello shot