The Thriller Everyone's Talking About: Firekeeper's Daughter

March 19, 2021
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Angeline Boulley’s debut Young Adult novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, was destined for greatness from the start. Twelve publishers engaged in a bidding war over the book. It was selected as the Spring Young Adult pick for Reese’s Book Club, and it has also caught the attention of the Obamas—their Higher Ground production company plans to adapt the book as Netflix series.

So, what makes this book such a standout? Maybe it’s the supremely relatable protagonist, an 18-year-old woman of mixed heritage—half Native American, half white—who is struggling to find her place in the world. Maybe it’s the rare and intriguing look inside a close-knit community comprising both Anishinaabe (Indigenous people) and Zhaaganaash (white people).

Or maybe it’s the breathtaking, heart-pounding action that kicks off when this young woman, Daunis Fontaine, witnesses a shocking murder and finds herself a key player in an FBI investigation into the rampant drug problem that’s tearing apart her community.

A Story Without Borders

Firekeeper’s Daughter has some of everything: mystery and intrigue, romance and suspense, emotional depth and tightly wound action.

While Daunis feels she doesn’t fit anywhere, the book itself is quite the opposite: It fits in pretty much everywhere. In an interview with BookPage*, Boulley noted how this novel blurs the lines between multiple genres and categories.

“It was always both a thriller/mystery and a coming-of-age/journey story,” Boulley said. “The challenge in writing the story was that I didn’t know where it would fit. Was it YA or adult fiction? Was it a thriller, mystery, or romance? Was it commercial or literary? When I’d share a draft with someone, it felt like a Rorschach test, because everyone perceived it differently.”

But no matter which aspect of Firekeeper’s Daughter speaks to you and draws you in, Boulley’s compelling storytelling, richly imagined characters, and compulsively readable plot are bound to secure this book a place in your heart.

If You Like Firekeeper’s Daughter…

Once Daunis’s story has made your personal literary hall of fame, you’ll no doubt be ready to dive into another book that will touch you just as deeply. Firekeeper’s Daughter is recommended for readers who enjoy the works of Tommy Orange and Angie Thomas—but if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, make sure to give these powerful books a read: 

- The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – A timely novel about race, identity, and one teenage girl’s quest for social justice.  

- There There, by Tommy Orange – This multiple-award-winning book explores the plight of the urban Native American through a diverse cast of characters connected by a painful history and a beautiful heritage.

- Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, Book 1), by Tomi Adeyemi – Inspired by West African culture, this acclaimed novel is a tantalizing story of forbidden magic, danger, oppression, and hope.

Of course, if you’re looking for a thriller, you’re sure to find a perfect match among the huge selection at BAM! Shop online or in store and stock up on must-read books by your favorite authors and literary newcomers alike.  

*Read the complete BookPage interview with author Angeline Boulley here.

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