Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
Summary: Perry Firekeeper-Birch has always known who she is – the laidback twin, the troublemaker, the best fisher on Sugar Island. Her aspirations won’t ever take her far from home, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. But as the rising number of missing Indigenous women starts circling closer to home, as her family becomes embroiled in a high-profile murder investigation, and as greedy grave robbers seek to profit off of what belongs to her Anishinaabe tribe, Perry begins to question everything.
In order to reclaim this inheritance for her people, Perry has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. She can only count on her friends and allies, including her overachieving twin and a charming new boy in town with unwavering morals. Old rivalries, sister secrets, and botched heists cannot – will not – stop her from uncovering the mystery before the ancestors and missing women are lost forever.
Sometimes, the truth shouldn’t stay buried.
My thoughts: Angeline Boulley has created another fabulous page-turner in her second book. If you’ve already read Firekeeper’s Daughter, this is an excellent follow-up set in the same community, but a few years later. It’s a companion rather than a sequel, so it can be read on its own though. I recommend reading both, because they are incredible, but this one can stand on its own.
Perry is character who charms or frustrates those around her. She had me smiling as she teased Luke-Ass and other people around her, but also when she told her little cousin that he has her heart using a fishing analogy. She’s sixteen and while she can be laidback, at times she can be incredibly passionate and jump into things full force.
She has many adults around her that are guiding her with advice and yet they give her room to live her life. Several times she is mentally reviewing the exact instructions she’s had from her family about how to respond when there is trouble. Missing and murdered indigenous women are often on the minds of her family and community and there are way too many reasons for Perry and others to have all kinds of strategies for when they are vulnerable.
Perry has obviously grown up knowing about the risks to those of her gender, skin color, and culture, but as she works in her internship, she also learns about how ancestral remains have gone missing throughout the years. Not only have they been stolen, even with laws in place requiring their return, few have been recovered. Perry’s heart is broken when she meets the remains of the Warrior Girl being kept by a non-native institution. For anyone unaware of the issues around the repatriation of ancestral remains, this book may be very illuminating. For some readers, this will not be new information but there is a great list of resources at the end that may be interesting for anyone. There are multiple moments that speak to the emotional work that Perry and others are having to do when seeing these items and hearing from elders about the losses. There’s an acknowledgement of the harms that this continues to do to the descendants of those people.
Throughout the book, the characters are central even though there is a lot happening. What I appreciate about Angeline Boulley’s writing is that there are intriguing mysteries to untangle, but beyond that, there are many layered characters and she makes me want to meet them and spend more time with them.
Recommendation: Get it soon. This book is tagged as a mystery or thriller, but it is also a book filled with love. It’s about identity, community, the continued affects of colonialism, and so much more. This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time.
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Availability: On shelves now
Review copy: Final copy via library