Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Warrior Girl Unearthed – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Gripping, dramatic, authentic, cultural, mystery.
YA book title: Warrior Girl Unearthed.
YA author: Angeline Boulley.
Genre: Mystery.
Published by: Rock The Boat.
ISBN: 9780861544226.
Recommended for children aged: 14+ year-olds.
First published: Paperback May 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Diverse KS3 & KS4 reading lists.

Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.

Our review:

Sixteen-year-old Perry Firekeeper-Birch plans to spend her summer fishing in the waters around her beloved Sugar Island in northern Michigan. She is happy to let her sister Pauline be the good twin and take on a prestigious internship with the Tribal Council. But when an unfortunate bear-related incident with her Aunt Daunis’ beloved jeep leaves her with a major repair bill, Perry is forced to take on an internship of her own.

And with that, my Summer of Slack goes up in smoke.

At the Cultural Learning Centre, odd-ball museum director “Kooky” Cooper introduces Perry to Warrior Girl, a Native American ancestor whose remains are at the centre of a politically charged repatriation negotiation. Perry is immediately fascinated with the world of NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which aims to protect Native American heritage by ensuring the return of cultural and religious artefacts and remains to their rightful tribal owners.

I turn the knife handle before gently placing it on Leer-wah’s open palm.
I don’t want to steal the knife. It belongs to the Warrior Girl.
I want to steal her.

Perry recruits the help of charming new boy Erik and her reluctant sister. Along with their fellow ‘Team Misfit’ interns, Perry plots an elaborate heist to not only bring Warrior Girl back home but to also rescue many other cultural artefacts which have been stolen from her people. But, unknown to Perry, there are members of her community who are determined to stop her from uncovering the truth, whatever the cost.

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Warrior Girl Unearthed is a gripping drama that gives readers a fascinating insight into a rarely-portrayed community. Author Angeline Boulley is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She is a former director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education and is a passionate advocate for authentic native stories.

Perry is a strong, independent protagonist who cares passionately about her community and cultural heritage. Readers will be swept up in the Oceans 11 style heist plans and will be gripped by the action-packed finale. The supporting characters are well-developed, and the inclusion of many Ojibwe phrases adds to the unique cultural insight. There is a comprehensive resource list at the end of the book for readers keen to know more about cultural repatriation practices.

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Warrior Girl Unearthed is set in the same world as Angeline Boulley’s previous novel Fire Keeper’s Daughter, which was a New York Times bestseller and Waterstones Best Young Adult Book of 2023. Although not a direct sequel and fully able to stand alone, many of characters and settings from the earlier novel reappear in Warrior Girl Unearthed. Perry and Pauline are the nieces of the Daunis, the protagonist of Fire Keeper’s Daughter. The tantalisingly references to Daunis’ adult life will appeal to fans of Bouley’s first novel, who will relish this second trip to such a vividly depicted community and will long for a third instalment.

Like Fire Keeper’s Daughter, Warrior Girl Unearthed covers some serious topics, including sexual assault, drug misuse and violence against children. The book is therefore more suited to an older readership.

Warrior Girl Unearthed is an immersive tale of cultural heritage and finding your own place in the world. It will appeal to fans of Kalyn Bayron and Tomi Adeyemi as well as readers who appreciate a well-crafted, culturally authentic adventure story.

Many thanks to Rock The Boat for the review copy.

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If you like Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley you might also like: our reviews of Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith, You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund and The Heart of the World by Amie Kaufman.

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About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon