Cass and Blue made a deal after their mother died of cancer: they would always talk on Mama’s birthday. Last year there was only a voicemail from Cass, and this year the call didn’t come at all.
Blue, 17, knows she must find her older sister. This urgency drives the white teen to meet the woman in the red dress at a crossroads at midnight and make a deal—her soul in exchange for her sister. But the woman in red is more interested in a gamble than an even trade, so she steals Blue’s voice and sends her off on a surreal all-or-nothing quest in which the rules of the game, and sometimes reality itself, shift and bend. Hoping to find Cass along the way, Blue re-creates the journey that decades ago brought together her mother and Tish, her partner in music and life. Blue meets an assorted cast of characters on her odyssey, all wandering for their own diverse reasons. The woman in red is never far away, compelling Blue to keep moving toward the family secrets she must uncover in order to rediscover the voice that is authentically her own. Mason-Black’s poignant debut novel takes Blue from small-town Maine, “where lesbian musicians were an oddity, and gay kids still suffered at the hands of their peers,” on a tour of America’s marginalized, her mutism eliciting confusion, confessions, and sympathy along the way.
A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into and those we choose. (Magical realism. 14-17)