Fifth-grader Cass Foster’s life is altered after her single mother receives an unexpected inheritance that includes a house in a better neighborhood and the relief of a new school where Cass can escape the bullies that have made her life miserable.
It is move-in day when the 12-year-old discovers a mysterious carved mask hidden in a drawer in her new bedroom. The mask has a hypnotizing effect on Cass, singing to her by day and making its way into her dreams at night. On her first day at her new school, Cass befriends classmate Degan Hill, a First Nations boy who also knows what it’s like to be bullied. She invites him over to show him the mask only to discover that her mother has pawned it. Devastated, Cass and Degan decide to retrieve the mask, which still speaks to Cass, who identifies as “nothing.” The two friends learn from Degan’s aunt, a Cayuga healer, that the mask is an Iroquois false face, a sacred object that’s found its way into Cass’ life for a reason. Currie offers a light, bittersweet story, filtered through the innocence of children, that comes full circle. She does this with an ease that is endearing and educational as she weaves in the traumatic story of the impact that the foster-care system has had and continues to have on Native families.
Drawing on her own experience discovering her Cayuga identity, Currie offers a tender, resonant tale. (Fiction. 9-13)