Drug abuse, distribution of illicit drugs, sexual violence (off screen), loss of parent, gun violence, physical violence, killing, racism
It’s been a while since I’ve written a review so forgive me if I’m a little bit rusty. Thanks friends!
This is the first Indigenous novel that I’ve read, where its an #ownvoices novel as well. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that I gave myself a little bit of information about the Anishinaabe and Ojibwe since that is a huge part of the novel. It was truly such a privilege to see what a young Anishinaabe woman goes through when she is immersed in her tribe and culture. Yes, Daunis may be biracial, and yes, there were some times where her Zhaaganaash (white person) family looked down on the Anishinaabe and even made Daunis feel like her culture was something to be ashamed of. So it was truly great to be able to see Daunis so engaged and allowing readers to learn about what her culture means through the eyes of another character.
If you want to see more of my thoughts on the conflicts with identity and culture, check out this post.
If you’re paying attention to the novel, you can see the messages that Boulley brings attention to that is happening to Indigenous tribes to this day: missing and murdered women, drug abuse in reservations. It’s important to note that these are real life issues happening and it’s not getting the kind of support and awareness that it should be getting, which in itself is heartbreaking. Seeing Daunis so passionate about bringing change to her community and being part of the solution rather than the problem is awe inspiring. Both of these issues take place in this novel, and seeing how people react to them can be either great or gut wrenching. I’ll leave you to read the novel so you can see what I mean.
I liked seeing the dynamics between Daunis and those she interacted with, mostly Lily, Jamie, and her Auntie. To Daunis, family is of huge importance to her, and even though during this novel she has to hide the truth of what she’s doing with Jamie, it doesn’t make it any easier for her to withhold that information. She’s doing what she does for her community, her family. There were some characters that I wish we got to see more of, especially with Daunis, but alas it could not happen.
Since this criminal investigation has her observing her friends for signs of illegal activity, she initially refuses to get involved. Her friends and family could never be involved with something so devastating to her community. Just no way. But when she realizes that this could give her the opportunity to find out the truth about her uncle, the truth about those involved in the crime, and being able to stop it from happening again, she ends up changing her mind. I can totally relate to her thoughts – both wanting to get involved to help her family and community, and also not wanting to because it means suspecting those you thought you knew so well. I don’t know what I would have done in her place, and I can only give her major props for being able to do this.
There’s so much I want to talk about with this novel but they are complete spoilers so I won’t mention them here. But I will say that I loved that little shout out to UH-Manoa in Oahu, HI at the end! I thought that was super cool, and it also made me miss my island.
I’m not a normal YA thriller type of person, but this was one that I was hooked on the entire time I was listening to it, and hated that it ended. It makes me want to see more of what happened in the aftermath, and what Daunis ends up doing after learning the truth she needed to find. Yes, it may have directly affected her community, but was it able to trickle to other communities? I know that there’s so much more to make this work, and that what happens in one community may not happen the same way in another. But its something that we can work for, and hope for.
I feel like I talked about Daunis so much because she really was my favorite character, and she was an MC that I just wanted to follow and live through her journey so much. Usually I’m able to attach to other side characters and sometimes like them better than the main, but I’m Team Daunis all the way. I’m just so proud of her. Thank you Angeline Boulley for writing this amazing novel, and I can’t wait to read more of your novels in the future.