The idea for Firekeeper’s Daughter percolated with Angeline Boulley for years, before she became a first-time novelist in her early 50s with its publication. It was worth the wait. Firekeeper’s Daughter was one of the best-reviewed books of 2021, earning raves from NPR, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and Publishers Weekly, among many others. In addition, it received the Printz Medal and the Morris Award, was named a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick, and has been optioned for a Netflix show by Higher Ground, the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama.
One week from today, Boulley will join us in the Library’s Trefz Forum to discuss her debut novel, which is this year’s WestportREADS selection. Before her appearance, Boulley, whose second book, Warrior Girl Unearthed, comes out in May, took some time to answer our questions on coming to the Library, her favorite books, and more.
Westport Library: What was your reaction to Firekeeper’s Daughter being named our WestportREADS pick for 2023?
Angeline Boulley: I was absolutely thrilled to be named your 2023 WestportREADS book! Community reading programs are such a great way for people to come together and discuss different perspectives. I especially love intergenerational events that bring teens, parents, and grandparents together.
What are your general thoughts on coming to The Westport Library to speak to our community?
I am excited to visit The Westport Library. A library says a lot about a community — it's evident that Westport values artistic expression and views the Library as the heart of its community. Also, I'm curious about your Seed Library.
There is so much information out there now and so many things to do and places to visit. Against that landscape, why do you think libraries still matter?
Libraries bring people together and foster engagement as a community. It's a place where everyone can access resources and ideas, and [where they] are valued as community members rather than as customers or consumers.
What are your favorite or most influential books?
1. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
2. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
3. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
4. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
5. Chemistry by Weike Wang
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
9. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
10. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
I'm also a huge fan of audiobooks. Here are my favorites (fiction):
1. Sadie by Courtney Summers
2. The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe
3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
4. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
5. The Martian by Andy Weir
6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
7. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
9. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
10. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
And I listen to a lot of memoir/biography/autobiography/essays:
1. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
2. What Remains by Carole Radziwill
3. Hunger by Roxane Gay
4. Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton
5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
6. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
7. Becoming by Michelle Obama
8. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
9. God Said, "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney
10. The Drummond Girls by Mardi Jo Link
What music/musicians/albums inspire you?
Florence + The Machine