Young Adult Literature


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Abigail Clarkin

Staff Writer

Abigail can often be found holding a book in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. When she is not devouring stories (or dessert), Abigail trains for marathons and writes poetry about growing up with eight brothers and sisters. She enjoys working in marketing for a real estate developer and creating Instagram content for fun (@marathonandmunch) about all the tasty eats found in Providence, RI.

Daunis Firekeeper is not someone to be messed with. If you recently finished Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley then you know this well. When Daunis witnesses the death of someone she loves, she is thrown head over heels into a top secret undercover investigation. People are dying in connection to the selling of deadly batches of methamphetamine to Native kids. Soon, she realizes she can trust no one — not friends, not family — and that the rot of deception may reach horrifyingly deep into the roots of her community. If you could not get enough of the novel, then I bet you’re looking for more books like Firekeeper’s Daughter.

While there are no novels that fully compare with Angeline Boulley’s debut, there are some notable young adult fiction books that share similarities. From Own Voices authors sharing the stories and traditions of their Native cultures, to themes of sacrifice, the search for justice, and high stakes mystery, I’ve compiled a list of young adult books like Firekeeper’s Daughter.

(Please note: as with Firekeeper’s Daughter, many of these stories do include mentions of rape, suicide, and other intense content. Proceed with caution.)

YA Books Like Firekeeper’s Daughter by Native and Indigenous Authors

Snake Falls to Earth cover

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

To kick off this list of books like Firekeeper’s Daughter, let’s start with a new book! Before Nina’s Lipan Apache great-grandmother Rosita passes away, she tells Nina of the animal people. Year’s later, Nina cannot stop thinking about them. What if the folk stories of her people are true, and there are those on earth who exist and can shapeshift? Oli exists in another world, not so far from Earth. And he’s a boy who can switch between human form and the form of a cottonmouth snake. When worlds collide in tragedy, the two just might begin to recognize who they truly are. A Snake Falls to Earth is a sweet, utterly charming tale!

cover image of Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Lou is a member of the Muscogee Nation and she is fed up with hearing negative stereotypes about Native people repeated time and time again. When her boyfriend says something problematic, she dumps him and turns her focus to her last year of high school. But the year will bring anything but smooth waters: soon Lou’s school’s theater department — and its cast members of color — are caught up in choppy waves. Racist threats are made when the school’s adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz includes students of color in prominent roles. When Lou is paired up with a boy named Joey for school newspaper assignments, she finds herself wading knee-deep into truth, danger, disturbing literary history, and love.

Cover of book "Give Me Some Truth," with image of two people holding onto a guitar.

Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

The year is 1980. Carson is a senior in high school from the Tuscarora Reservation, and he has an opinion on just about everything. But Carson is also a dreamer. He hopes to win a Battle of the Bands competition and punch his ticket to NYC. The journey to the stage, though, is proving long, winding, and complicated with family matters and disturbing interactions with racists. Magpie — Maggie — is new to the area and bursting with creativity. She can barely remember living on the Tuscarora Reservation when she was much younger, and is eager for new experiences. Together, the characters chase after their dreams, even when the world isn’t quite ready for them yet.

cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Fast forward quite a few years from now and meet Maggie, a rather reluctant dystopian monster hunter. Maggie is Dinétah — or what was once known as Navajo — and she is the last hope for finding those who have been taken by otherworldly creatures, like the yee naalddlooshii. When she accepts the job of retrieving a kidnapped young girl, she finds that the monster that took her is part of something much more sinister than she realized. It is with the help of an intriguing medicine man that Maggie digs deeper to find the truth that may destroy their world.

YA Thrillers/Mysteries Like Firekeeper’s Daughter

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Following the horrific death of her beloved younger sister Mattie, teenage Sadie heads off alone into the unknown to find the killer. For all her life, Sadie has taken care of Mattie, no matter the sacrifice. Even after Mattie is gone, Sadie continues to take care of her after the police investigation leads to a dusty dead end. Like Firekeeper’s Daughter, Sadie tells the chilling tale of forgotten girls and a frustratingly faulty justice system. Bonus: the story is told in an engaging and unique podcast format!

Cover of "Grown," featuring a girl wearing jewelry against a bright yellow background.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Enchanted dreams of becoming a star. She has the voice for it, of course, and all she needs is the exposure! When celebrity singer Korey Fields discovers Enchanted, the teen believes that her life is going to change. And she is right — but her life will change in a way even her nightmares could not predict. Before she knows it, Enchanted is drawn into an abusive and illegal relationship with Korey. Isolated from friends and family, she becomes but a shadow of the shining sun she is. Then Korey is murdered and Enchanted is found at the scene of the crime with her memories missing. Is she the killer? And who else has Korey ruined?

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson cover image

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Mila’s heart is shattered when her best friend Riley shockingly dies in their small hometown. It’s always been just the two of them against the world — and now Mila is alone. But then there’s an odd, tangled string of teen deaths in town and Mila becomes suspicious. She calls upon Riley’s favorite pastime, the powers of witchcraft, to do something dangerous: Mila brings the murdered girls back to life. Unfortunately, none still possess the memories surrounding their deaths. And let me tell you, the final reveal of the killer is just as juicy and disturbing as the truths Daunis uncovers in Firekeeper’s Daughter.

we were liars cover

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Sinclair family is rich, athletic, and beautiful. But they also have deep secrets churning away, hidden in the dark waters surrounding their private summer island. Cadence is surrounded by tense familial relationships: her own parents, her grandparents, and her siblings…But she loves summers with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and the love of her life Gat. After Cadence suffers an injury on the island, she is plagued with headaches and memory loss. And her cousins won’t respond to her emails. What will she find when she returns to the island?

Book cover of "City of Saints and Thieves," featuring a young girl staring out ahead.

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

City of Saints and Thieves is fast paced and sets the reader down smack in the middle of the action. After fleeing their home in the Congo, Tina’s family lands in Kenya. As if things weren’t already bad enough, Tina’s mother is shot in the home of a rich crook named Roland Greyhill and Tina turns to thievery and revenge in order to survive on the streets alone. She thinks she knows why and who killed her mother, but when Tina returns to the Greyhill mansion years later, things prove to not be what she initially thought. Anyone who loved the mystery in Firekeeper’s Daughter will enjoy the similar thrill found in this book by Natalie C. Anderson!

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Jay is a Filipino American teen who is looking forward to college in the coming months. When a family member is killed in the Philippines, though, Jay is shocked and can’t let the matter rest. But learning more about the country, his heritage, and his family might prove to be a weight heavier than Jay anticipated holding. There is an air of mourning and mystery in Jay’s story that reminded me of Daunis’s story.

Novels Like Firekeeper’s Daughter With Teens Who Look Out For Their Communities

Cover of "Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet," with two teens pictured.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kamp

When Pen closes her eyes, she can picture the pastelería she will open one day. For now, though, she runs the kitchen at Nacho’s Tacos, her family’s Mexican American restaurant. Matters become more complicated when Pen confesses a secret to her parents and she’s not only fired but kicked out of their house. No matter what she does, Pen cannot stay away from Nacho’s, especially when she realizes that the immigrants who find shelter there are being threatened. It’s up to Pen and those she loves to band together and stand up against a crooked man intent on ruining everything.

a pho love story book cover

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Bao doesn’t harbor any intense interest in extracurriculars, sports, or academics. He spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend Viet or working in his family’s pho restaurant. One constant in his life is the rivalry between his family and the family who owns the neighboring pho restaurant. When Bao meets Linh, the daughter of the rival restaurant owners, her own passion for life and art ignites something in him. As Bao begins writing for the school paper, he finds a creative outlet where he can make a positive change. And as the AAPI folks in his community face discrimination and cruelty, Bao finds a way to fight back with words.

Cover of The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr doesn’t expect to lose so much in one single night. When she heads to a party and runs into her childhood best friend Khalil, it feels like old times. Then Khalil dies in an act of police brutality and Starr is the sole witness. Her life is upended, and she has to choose: tell the truth and make an enemy of the law, or stay quiet and betray Khalil, her community, and herself. As she mourns Khalil’s death, Starr quickly realizes that the justice system is not always just and that it might be up to her to fight for the future of her neighborhood.

Cover of "Wings of Ebony" book.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

No list of YA books like Firekeeper’s Daughter would be complete without Wings of Ebony. Just like Daunis, Rue does not shy away from doing what is necessary to protect her people; fear is weaker than her love for her younger sister and the folks she grew up with. When Rue’s mother is murdered, the teen is reunited with her father and learns that she has a magical heritage and access to immense power. Something sinister is happening both in the city of Houston, where she grew up, and in Ghizon, where her father resides. As more and more youth are found dead in relation to drug dealing in Houston, Rue knows it’s time to get to the bottom of it all.

In search of more recommendations for books like Firekeeper’s Daughter, perhaps some nonfiction and adult fiction titles? Check out these books by Native, First Nation, or Indigenous authors. How about personalized reading recommendations catered especially to you? Check out Tailored Book Recommendations for tailored suggestions!