Wow. Let me just say, I loved this book! I went into it not really knowing what it was about and the story was such a pleasant surprise. Now I know why it was all over Instagram! The story focuses on Daunis, an 18 year old girl living in a small Michigan town near the Canadian border. She is part Caucasian and part Ojibwe Native American. She doesn’t really fit into either world, and has hopes to start over while away at college. But, a family tragedy puts those plans on hold and she stays to care for her mother and ailing grandmother. Rather than out-of-town college, she plans to attend community college classes with her best friend.
I loved Daunis. She is a strong, smart and capable woman who feels deeply and takes her responsibilities seriously. She knows what she wants, she takes steps toward those goals, and is able to roll with changes that life throws at her. Of course, this puts a huge strain on Daunis that she can’t share with her family, particularly since she takes a lot of familial responsibility on herself, and eventually anyone would strain under that kind of pressure. The love she feels for her family – both sides – is the driving motivation for most of her actions. Her strong ties towards her Ojibwe tribe and heritage also plays a big part in the decisions she makes in her life. I loved learning about the many traditions of her culture. It plays a central part of the book and was a wonderful addition. I was sadden to learn about the multitude of struggles Native Americans in the US still have to contend with even today. Included in those struggles is drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and sexual assault, racism and cultural stereotypes. Daunis experiences some of these issues which is heartbreaking to read, but effective in shedding light on the subject.
Hockey plays a fairly big part of this story, and as an avid hockey fan, this thrilled me. I mean, the book was already good, and then there is hockey??? Hockey is hardly ever written into storylines, so yeah, I’m a happy reader! When Daunis was in high school she played on her brother’s hockey team and was a gifted player, but an old injury prevents her from playing in college. Despite her spoiled plans to leave town, Daunis finds a bit of joy in Jamie, the new hockey recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. She is tasked with showing Jamie around, and while she tries to keep things strictly business, she finds her resolve fading. In her life, real world and hockey world do not overlap. Falling for Jamie would definitely violate that premise, but even more, Jamie seems to be hiding something.
After Daunis witnesses a shocking murder that shatters her world, she is reluctantly sucked into the FBI’s investigation of a new lethal drug and agrees to go undercover using her contacts in both worlds, as well as her knowledge of chemistry and traditional Ojibwe medicine. Daunis doesn’t exactly trust the FBI, however, or any government officials for that matter. So, while Daunis agrees to act as a “secret squirrel” for the FBI, she also conducts her own investigation and follows the paths she deems relevant. She will also decide what information is turned over and when. She’s determined that the FBI doesn’t simply concentrate on the perpetrators, but also recognizes that her community members are victims as well. As the violence and death counts rise, old scars and secrets come out and Daunis realizes how far she will go for her community despite the pain it may cause her.
Reading how Daunis approaches her investigation and figure things out was great to read. She is smart and savvy, able to draw information out to help her investigation, and able to put all of the information together. Reading about her conflicting feelings about “using” her Ojibwe contacts for information was hard because we can all probably relate to taking advantage of information received to further your own interest and that icky feeling that overcomes you when you do it.
As you can see, I loved this book. There is an overall mystery to be solved, some thrilling action parts, a little bit of romance and a lot of teaching moments about the Ojibwe culture and traditions. Despite the book being almost 500 pages, I sped through it in just a couple days. It starts off slowly, tension starts to build and then the action takes off and you can’t put it down. I highly recommend you read this book and I can’t wait to read future books by this author.