Many believe that finding who you are and remaining true to who you are is key to living a fulfilling life. I think the author of Firekeeper’s Daughter agrees with that line of thought. The main character, Daunis is a biracial native American who is still grieving the loss of her uncle David and has yet to fully recover from the loss of her dad. Added to her love for hockey is her love for science and Maths and a deep love for her community, tribe, and culture. We see her constantly searching for who she is especially when she is yet to be enrolled in the tribe which would qualify her for what is referred to as per cap (money). But beyond the financial gains that come with being a registered tribal member, she feels a sense of loss because not being a registered member, questions her identity and where she truly belongs. Her father was a star hockey player from the Sugar Island Ojibwe reservation, and her mother is the daughter of one of Sault Ste. Marie’s most influential families.
Daunis’ journey begins when she meets a young man Jamie on her brother’s (Levi’s) hockey team and they become good friends with her being his guide in the community, teaching him about the Ojibwe culture and showing him around Sault Ste.Marie. She subsequently witnesses the murder of her best friend at the hands of an estranged boyfriend. Daunis is then asked to participate in an ongoing investigation that will expose the drug business that is gaining ground in the community. The story spirals from there. Daunis decides to help the FBI with the ultimate goal of saving her community as many lives were lost due to the spread of drugs (meth precisely).
Jamie, who says he is Cherokee is also struggling with himself as he admits that he has no deep roots or ties to any community and Daunis urges him to find out his heritage, his tribe. The story speaks on so many issues especially on the matter of identity and acceptance. Daunis faces microaggressions from people and also feels that she is never truly accepted in the Ojibwe community because of her mixed background.
However, as she works with Jamie and Ron in uncovering the drug ring, she also begins a journey of finding out who she truly is and what she wants for herself. Jamie also has to learn to understand that Daunis wants to find herself before she fully commits to a relationship and in that process, he also begins a process of finding himself. Through the eyes of Daunis, we see the deep need for acceptance, the need for a true sense of belonging, and ultimately the need for one to decide for one’s self and be true to one’s beliefs and values.
The story is full of suspense as Daunis begins to find out that the trouble might just be from those she trusts the most. She goes through not just emotional pain but physical pain too and she endures all these for the sake of the love she has for those around her. The book shows how integral family and community are in healing when there is loss and grief. The book shows the power of community and culture in helping one cope with unexpected changes. Daunis finds this community so heartwarming when her auntie presents her with her tribal membership application (a gift from her father) and so many elders ready to stand for her. These elders even put their lives on the line for her when she needed it which drives home the point that there is power in community.
The author takes us on a journey into the Ojibwe culture and we see firsthand the struggles of the community and how much injustice that they have endured, especially the women. Hence, anyone who wants to read this book will see issues like drug abuse, suicide, sexual assault, racism, etc. However, every page promises to keep your fingers itchy to turn the next. The author does a good job of weaving many issues together and dealing with them accordingly. Though there is the thrilling effect the book has on its readers, it also is educative and enlightening. Firekeeper’s Daughter is a Must-Read!