While she’s playing detective to find three ancient Plano arrowheads, sheltered 12-year-old Cassie is also gathering clues about life.
Cassie is a girl in transition. Her divorced parents are both following their dreams: her mother is in Germany on business, and Cassie is spending the summer with her dad, who is, to her surprise, in Palo Duro Canyon becoming a park ranger. In the past, Cassie has gone along and tried to fit in. But her experiences roughing it in the semiarid canyon push tenderfoot Cassie, depicted as a white girl on the cover, outside her comfort zone physically and emotionally. Meeting people with a variety of life experiences, learning the history of the land and native peoples, training for hikes, and immersing herself in the mystery of arrowheads that have disappeared from an archaeological dig broadens Cassie’s perspective and sharpens her interpretive skills. The setting is vivid and the unusual cast, richly developed. Cassie narrates and is honest, sometimes painfully so, about her feelings and often biased assumptions, particularly with regard to the neighboring family of Latino kids. As she opens herself to new friends and information, Cassie is better able to assess her life and make decisions about her future. Periodic entries in her journal emphasize turning points until, in the end, an eager “Cassandra” writes an entry to highlight the things she learned over the summer.
An unexpectedly deep mystery with plenty of talking points. (Mystery. 8-12)