*I received an audio copy via Macmillian Audio. All reviews are my own.*
I am sooooo jealous that Color Pages Book Tour got a chance to tour Angeline Boulley's Warrior Girl Unearthed. (For those who don't know, I work with Hear Our Voices Book Tours, also dedicated to highlighting #ownvoices stories and diverse books.) All of CPT tour participants snapped with their content! So much so that I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. I didn't have to wait long because the good folks at Macmillian Audio blessed me with the audiobook for my listening pleasure. I feel special.
"Perry Firekeeper-Birch was ready for her Summer of Slack but instead, after a fender bender that was entirely not her fault, she’s stuck working to pay back her Auntie Daunis for repairs to the Jeep.
Thankfully she has the other outcasts of the summer program, Team Misfit Toys, and even her twin sister Pauline. Together they ace obstacle courses, plan vigils for missing women in the community, and make sure summer doesn’t feel so lost after all.
But when she attends a meeting at a local university, Perry learns about the “Warrior Girl”, an ancestor whose bones and knife are stored in the museum archives, and everything changes. Perry has to return Warrior Girl to her tribe. Determined to help, 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 and the Misfits won’t let it go on any longer.
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."
I didn't get to read Boulley's debut, Firekeeper's Daughter, but I see Isabella Star LaBlanc is responsible for the audio narration. So if you are a fan of that book, you're in for a treat because she also narrated Warrior Girl Unearthed. Since this is the first time experiencing her work, I did have to speed up the settings; she is a slow reader, and I needed to get this show on the road!
I can never get into specific stories from demographics and periods because history and media have always shaped them to be the pinnacle of that time. Like nothing else was going on in the world. For example, if you think of Black stories, you think of slavery. If you think of London, you equate it to the drab roads of the Victorian period or Bridgerton. If you think of anything from Russia, Poland, the Soviet Union, etc., it's automatically linked to war and espionage. Native American/Indigenous stories are no different from my ignorant thinking. Warrior Girl Unearthed may have changed my perspective of how I read and digest stories from our native tribes.
In WGU, I learned and understood more about the culture from a 16-year-old perspective versus the tidbit media displays during the time we carve out a dry-ass turkey and pass around cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day. Following Perry Firekeeper Birch, I walked with her as she navigated through what's right and wrong in the anthropology field. I recognized her need to bring back her people, whether through auction houses or theft. I felt her anger when she realized that politics and pettiness determine who claims what on artifacts and human remains. I listened to it all. By any means necessary runs in this girl's DNA, and I love that for her character. One thing's for sure, Boulley knows how to present facts and common debate without drilling into your head that there's a problem and injustice within the indigenous community.
Since I went into this book blind, I was also surprised that Boulley added a mystery/thriller portion to the story. I would not have guessed the whodunit or the motive AT ALL. With everything going on in the story, finding Warrior Girl, understanding the NAGPRA protocols, rotating jugging internships, etc., I thought the element of kidnappings would muddle the story. It didn't! It kept me engaged and aware of how problematic it is on the Reserve grounds and how little help the government is willing to offer. On a side note, America is super petty with this law loophole. I would love to go in, but we'll be here all day.
Overall I rated this book 4.5 stars. Warrior Girl Unearthed is a page-turner that does not disappoint! It is very educational but without the heaviness and bore of a classroom. It makes me want to learn more about Indigenous cultures, how to be a proper anthropologist, and their reparation mission (because, lowkey, how can black people adopt this method because we are long overdue).
Warrior Girl Unearthed is available now!