Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
494 p. Mystery
A wonderful book about teen Daunis Fontaine existing in two different worlds: the white world of her mother and the nearby Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) reservation of her father’s family. She feels that she doesn’t quite fit into either world. She is all set to start college when there is a death in the family and she decides to live at home and attend community college. Then she meets Jamie, a new hockey player on the local high school team, and starts to fall for him. But Jamie isn’t quite who he says he is and Daunis becomes entrenched in a mystery that involves her friends and family, drugs, and an FBI investigation in which Daunis becomes a part of.
I liked this book because it is so much more than a thriller, it is also about Ojibwe traditions and culture in a modern setting. It also deals with sensitive topics like drugs and sexual assault. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down once I got into it!
“My girl, some boats are for the river and some are for the ocean.”
― Angeline Boulley, Firekeeper’s Daughter
Red, White, and Whole by Rajani Larocca
217 p. Historical Fiction, Novel in verse
Like the previous post, this book is about a girl, Reja, who is torn between two worlds: the one at school where she is the only Indian American student, and the one at home with her family’s traditions and expectations. Reja feels very disconnected from her mother and feels misunderstood until she finds out that her mom has leukemia. The scenes where Reja evolves and is involved with her mother’s care and her relationship with her father is beautifully done. Highly recommend.
Take back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles
226 p. Realistic Fiction
Wes faces reality when his beloved neighborhood is going through gentrification and his urban neighborhood is being taken over and now his neighbors are being bough out and moving away. Wes decides to stand up and support his neighbors and gets his friends and classmates involved. A wonderful book about a topic I haven’t seen much in books for teens and great for showing activism. Highly recommend–would be a good read aloud or book buddy book.
The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes
376 p. Action/Adventure
(from publisher description) ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE. IF YOU HURT US, WE’RE COMING FOR YOU.
Thea obviously doesn’t know what she is in for when she joins the Black Coats, which she soon discovers is a vigilante group that exacts revenge from men who have hurt females. At first, Thea believes in the group whole-heartedly, but as the brutality increases, Thea must decide what is right and what is wrong. I could understand the feelings behind the desire for revenge and I thought the topics of trauma and grief were well done, but for me, the violence was a little over the top. I would recommend for some of my students.
Soulevez-vous, femmes de la vengeance…from Black Coats
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
289 p. Realistic Fiction Islam/Muslim Asian Literature (India)
I enjoy books with multiple perspectives, and although this book is categorized as realistic, it also reads like a thriller. After posting on FB about a fire on a train and lack of police response, a young Muslim woman is accused of a terrorist attack on that train where over 100 people were killed. She is charged with the crime and sent to jail to await trial. There are two other people involved in the story’s plot: one a former teacher and the other an aspiring actor. Will these two acquaintances risk their careers in order to help her and tell the truth?
I enjoyed this book because it talks about the inequity in Indian society, the caste system, and how people can be blamed without any physical evidence. Shocking buy yet very realistic. Students may not be aware of how Muslims may be treated in India and how easily that hatred can be stirred up.
“And then, in the small, glowing screen, I wrote a foolish thing. I wrote a dangerous thing, a thing nobody like me should ever think, let alone write.”A Burning p. 5
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
247 p. Action/Adventure
This story is told in two perspectives: from viewpoint of one Black girl and one white girl. It starts out with the girls at a football game where a racially motivated fight breaks out. Shots are fired; then a protest occurs that finally leads to riots, looting, and rioting. The two girls are thrown together and have to help each other to escape and survive the night. I thought the topic was good but at times it was hard to stay with the ongoing violence and rioting.
The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
370 p. Mystery/Thriller
Tress Mentor had a normal life until her parents disappeared and she is sent to live with her grandfather. Now she has become an outcast at her school. The only person who knows something about what happened is her former best friend Felicity who was the last person to see them alive. But Felicity has a mental block and is unable to remember. This book is told in alternating viewpoints from the two girls’ perspectives. A reading of Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” would be in good order as there are many references to it. And possibly a second book?