Angeline Boulley was born in 1965, and is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She is a former director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Her debut novel, »Firekeeper’s Daughter« , is about eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine. The daughter of a now-deceased indigenous father and a white mother, she doesn’t seem to really belong anywhere – neither in her hometown nor on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When her uncle suddenly dies and her grandmother suffers a stroke, Daunis puts her plans to study medicine far away on hold to enroll first at the local university and care for her mother. At the same time, she falls in love with charming Jamie, who plays ice hockey with her brother. But Jamie has a secret, which Daunis uncovers when she witnesses a murder. As it unfolds, someone in her community is dealing a new, deadly drug, a form of meth with hallucinogenic effects. Daunis becomes involved in the FBI’s work and begins to investigate undercover, utilizing her knowledge of chemistry and traditional Ojibwe medicine to her advantage. Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong »Anishinaabe kwe« [Ojibwe woman]. She takes on everything to save herself and her community, even if her previous aspirations shatter in the process.
The novel is characterized by a sensitive treatment of themes such as abuse, addiction, sexual assault, and grief. Superficially, it is a suspensefully told thriller. Much information about Ojibwe culture, traditions, language, and history is incorporated into the book. As the author revealed in an interview with »Publishers Weekly«, she carried the idea for the novel around with her since she was eighteen years old. At that time, a young man at her high school turned out to be a drug agent who had gone undercover among the students. It wasn’t until over twenty-five years later that she made a first attempt to write down the story. But it took another ten years and many revised versions to finally complete the novel. It reached #1 on the »New York Times« bestseller list, won the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, and received an honorable mention in the American Indian Library Association’s 2022 Youth Literature Awards. Currently, Higher Ground, a production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama, is preparing to adapt the novel as a Netflix series.
Angeline Boulley lives in southwest Michigan.