Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine lives her life split between two cultures, half Ojibwe, half white, not quite feeling like she belongs in either. When her best friend is murdered, she is approached by the FBI, to go undercover to try and find out who has been making a new kind of drug. Lily isn’t the first person close to her to be taken, and the thought of her tribe’s medicine being twisted into something else is too much. Daunis agrees.

When someone dies, everything about them becomes past tense. Except for the grief. Grief stays in the present.

This is a really slow burn story, so I would hesitate to call it a thriller but I loved how it interwove Daunis’ culture and community around the core plot, it is as much about them as it is the investigation. And yes, I totally bought this for the cover but it has also turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year so far.

Her big passion in life is hockey, but an injury forced her to quit. Her half-brother is on the team and she likes to keep Real World and Hockey World separate. Jamie is new in town and to the team, and Levi asks her to be his “ambassador” to help keep the groupies away from him. Jamie has a girlfriend, Jamie is on the hockey team, Jamie is off limits… but Daunis starts to fall for him, even though sometimes it seems like he’s hiding something.

The FBI hasn’t always had a good track record with the indigenous people of America and Daunis isn’t sure it’s in the tribe’s best interests to get them involved. But she wants answers herself, about her uncle and the reason for Lily’s death. There must have been something more than jealousy to turn the boy who had once been their friend to murder. He was using drugs, maybe dealing, but had they been adding something extra to the meth?

The book poses questions about the ethics of undercover relationships, especially when younger agents are concerned, as well as dealing with substance abuse in tribal communities and violence against native women going unaddressed.

We love imperfect people. We can love them and not condone their actions and beliefs.

Daunis is no stranger to tragedy, first her father died, then her uncle, leaving her mother all alone. Without her Ojibwe father on her birth certificate or around to vouch for her, she must apply for tribal membership before she turns nineteen, and she’s conflicted about it. Her tribe own a casino and all enrolled members get a share of the profits. This has caused some tension between the Anishinaabe and the Zhaaganaash (white people), but it’s not about money to Daunis. Why should a council get to decide who she is?

I just loved getting immersed in this community and the mystery kept me guessing. I also really wanted a happy ending for Daunis. It’s maybe not fast-paced enough for some mystery fans but I adored it.

Trigger warning for sexual assault.

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