on March 16, 2021
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.
The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
I truly do not have the words to do this incredible book justice. Frankly, you probably don’t even need me to. It’s a Reese Witherspoon Spring YA Pick, soon to be adapted at Netflix with Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground, and pretty much every person who’s read it is screaming from the rooftops. Because it truly is that good.
But on the off chance you’re still somehow not convinced, I’ll do my damnedest here. I am going to list the myriad of things that made me fall in love with this book:
- It defies typical genre categorization. It’s not one genre, it’s every genre. (Fine not “every”, but you get my point.) No matter what sort of story you’re drawn to, I promise it’s contained in this book. There is truly something for everyone here.
- The emotions, I have them all. This story made me laugh, cry, squeal with glee, and have basically every other possible emotion under the sun. To say I fell hard for Daunis and her story would be an obscene understatement- I was so invested that I could hardly tear myself away from the pages. You know how they say that authors pour their souls into their books? I could feel the soul-pouring that the author did here. It radiates through every page, and is translated in a stunningly emotional experience for the reader.
- Daunis is just an incredible character. Don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with many of the side characters as well. But Daunis shines. I could feel her internal struggles, understand her decisions and her thoughts, and was completely connected to her as a character. And, like I said, I was also quite invested in the characters in Daunis’s life, as well. The relationship building was just as strong as the character development, and I loved reading about Daunis building new relationships, as well as tending to her current ones.
- I was all in for the mystery element! There were some incredible twists that I plain old did not see coming! One or two earlier on I did, and thought I was smart, only to have the rug pulled out from me later, which frankly is my favorite.
- The Native cultural representation was phenomenal and immersive. Learning about other cultures is absolutely a highlight of reading, but the immersion I felt in this book was next level. I learned a lot, and it was so wonderful to be able to read Daunis’s experiences from her point of view, and also to read about some of the experiences of her whole community.
- A big part of Daunis’s story is her figuring out who she is and who she wants to be, and making some very difficult choices. Daunis has always felt like a bit of an outsider because her mother is white and her father is Native. Because her mother’s family isn’t Native, Daunis isn’t a full tribe member, but nor does she feel like she fits with her mother’s rich French family. Add to it that she’s trying to figure out her next step in life, and is dealing with some pretty serious stuff throughout the book, clearly Daunis is going through it. And in the midst of all of these elements which would be hard on their own, Daunis has to make some truly life changing decisions that will affect not just her, but her whole community.
- There are a lot of serious issues here, but handled in a really appropriate way. This is a beautiful story, but it has some very dark moments. I do think that the author handled them beautifully, though. Some of what you read will infuriate you. I hope it does, because it should. You’ll see some vile mistreatment of women, of Native people in general, and especially of Native women. It’s so hard to read, but equally necessary.
- It’s just a damn good story. Any of the above items listed would be enough to make it a new favorite, but the book was also just plain entertaining. I couldn’t put it down, and stayed up until after 2am to finish it. So objectively it’s awesome, but also from my own completely subjective opinion, I really, really loved it.
Bottom Line: Every so often, a novel comes around that turns the book world upside down and changes everything. This is that novel.