Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
To be published on May 2, 2023 by Henry Holt
Thanks to Macmillan for the Advance Reader Copy!
Plot Summary of Warrior Girl Unearthed
Perry Firekeeper-Birch was all set for a "summer of slack." Instead, after a fender bender that was entirely not her fault, she’s stuck working to pay back her Auntie Daunis for Jeep repairs.
Thankfully. Perry has "the Misfits," the outcasts of her summer internship program, to keep her company.
As part of Perry's internship. she attends a meeting at a local university and learns about the “Warrior Girl,” an ancestor whose bones and knife are stored in the museum archives.
Horrified, Perry is determined to return Warrior Girl to her tribe. She learns all she can about NAGPRA, the federal law that allows tribes to request the return of ancestral remains and sacred items.
The university has been using legal loopholes to hold onto Warrior Girl and twelve other Anishinaabe ancestors’ remains, and Perry is determined to cut through the red tape at any cost.
Using all of their skills and resources, the Misfits realize a heist is the only way to bring back the stolen artifacts and remains for good. But there is more to this repatriation than meets the eye as more women disappear and Pauline’s perfectionism takes a turn for the worse.
As secrets and mysteries unfurl, Perry and the Misfits must fight to find a way to make things right – for the ancestors and for their community.
Review of Warrior Girl Unearthed
Warrior Girl Unearthed was amazing!
The book takes place ten years after The Firekeeper's Daughter, which I reviewed here. It also has many cross-over characters from the first book, which I loved.
Perry and Pauline, cousins to Daunis from The Firekeeper's Daughter, are now teenagers. (They are the twin daughters of Art and Teddie).
Pauline has always been told that she is "the smart twin," but is also plagued by perfectionism and anxiety.
Perry knows that she's not considered the superstar of her family, and she doesn't care. She loves her sister and watches over her. After a fender bender wrecks her planned "summer of slack," she's suddenly transformed into a rebel with a cause.
As part of a summer internship program run by her tribe, she's assigned to be a tribal museum assistant. Perry yawns at the idea of dusty display cases, until she learns that Native American artifacts and even human remains are being displayed at the local college. Or stored in cardboard boxes.
Perry is horrified and outraged. When she is foiled in her attempts to help repatriate the remains and objects through legal channels, decides that she will mastermind a heist.
What do I love more than a good heist book? A heist book in which a Scooby Gang is motivated by idealism.
I absolutely adored The Firekeeper's Daughter and I loved Warrior Girl Unearthed just as much.
Perry is just as fierce and inspirational a main character as Daunis. Plus, you'll get to revisit so many of your favorite characters: TJ, Stormy Nodin, Granny June. And a villain (who shall remain unnamed in this review) gets some karmic punishment.
As in The Firekeeper's Daughter, Boulley calls attention to the plight of MMIWG2S (the many missing indigenous women, girls and two-spirits). In the books, she ties this issue to the repatriation movement, in which indigenous people petition for the return of human remains and cultural items that have been stolen by collectors, academics, and museums.
Boulley does a truly masterful job of infusing her book with what Virgil called "lacrimae rerum," or the tears of things, the deep sorrows inherent in life. She writes incredibly movingly about the beauty and depth of her Ojibwe culture while at the same time never letting the reader forget all the horrible indignities and abuse her people have suffered and persevered through.
I highly recommend you read these books!
You can get all the details on The Firekeeper's Daughter (and the upcoming Netflix series) here. Can't wait!