A band of misfits is inspired to reclaim remains of their Indigenous ancestors in this unique and potent heist story.
Good to know
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.
Warrior Girl Unearthed
Monday, June 9th
I speed across Sugar Island in the Jeep I share with my sister. The rising sun escapes the tree line to my left. I adjust the sun visor against the blinding brightness. It’s what good drivers are supposed to do: minimize distractions.
Focusing on the road ahead, I watch for cultural-camp signage. Next to me, Pauline makes a production of craning her neck to check the speedometer, shaking her head, and sighing. I take it as a challenge, smoothly shifting into fifth gear while rounding a corner. The tires squeal.
“Remember what Auntie Daunis said,” she warns.
“About our birthday gift that came with a bonus scolding?” I say.
“‘Happy Sweet Sixteen, my girls.’” Pauline imitates Auntie’s slightly deeper voice. “‘Enjoy this good pony, but—’”
I interrupt, practically growling, “‘But hear me now. I will repossess her and kick your asses if I catch yous being foolish.’”
We laugh in twin harmony.
I don’t mention Auntie’s next words, directed solely to me: And that includes speeding.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Pauline says. “It’s not like you have anything going on.”
My sister irritates me like nobody else. I glare at her.
“Hold up. You’re still mad about last week? Seriously? A week of touring universities was torture for poor Perry? It was supposed to inspire you.” She drags out the word: in-spy-yer.
“It cost me a week of fishing!”
She huffs. “Well, I wish you hadn’t come. Then no one would’ve suffered Elvis Junior’s atomic farts.”
I for sure weaponized our stinky dog, who gets hella gassy from people food. I hide my smirk while checking out a faded sign announcing that the Sugar Island Ojibwe Tribe’s cultural camp is a quarter mile ahead.
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
Some of the best stories I’ve read are not only filled with mystery and intrigue, they also share pieces of history and culture that I don’t often get to read about. With her sophomore novel, Warrior Girl Unearthed, Angeline Boulley has crafted a clever riff on a heist story and a powerful testament to resilience and reclaiming Native history.
Perry Firekeeper-Birch is ready for a relaxing Summer of Slack, but when she gets into a fender bender all her summer plans change in an instant. To pay back her Auntie Daunis, she must join a summer intern program. She spends her days doing team exercises and working at the tribal museum, where she is introduced to the world of stolen artifacts. After Perry attends a meeting where she sees “Warrior Girl,” an ancestor who has been kept in the basement of a local university along with twelve other Anishinaabe ancestors, Perry determines to do everything in her power to bring their remains and other artifacts home to Sugar Island.
If you loved Firekeeper’s Daughter, I have no doubt that this book will be your next favorite read. Not only is Warrior Girl Unearthed suffused with rich and compelling Native history and culture, it also features some incredible characters—most notably Perry, a sometimes-reckless teen whose heart is in the right place and believes fiercely in justice for her tribe. I’m sure you’ll be rooting for Perry and her team of Misfits the whole time, just like I did.
Member ratings (981)
This was intriguing and gave a very real look at multiple problems Native Americans face on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading about ceremonies and repatriations of ancestors and items. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read!
Wheat Ridge, CO
I feel like I learned so much about indigenous culture. I even bought the book Gave Injustice to learn more about NAGPRA. I was very invested in all the characters and eager to find out what happened!
A fantastic evaluation of what indigenous peoples go through in this country. From present day MMIW to their fight to get their ancestors back, it’s not often discussed but it definitely should be.
I loved Warrior Girl Unearthed and Boulley is now an auto-buy author. I appreciated the coming of age story and Perry's commitment to her culture. I love learning about the Native American culture.
Bree Freddie W.
Rochester , NY
A beautiful book with hilarious characters and heavy hitting topics. I'm not usually a fan of YA, but if you want to dip your toes in the true history of Turtle Island, this book is a great start!