Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

"The Masquerade" - Book Review

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2003 19 Aug
"The Masquerade" - Book Review

Author:     Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Publisher: Moody Publishers

New author Sarah Anne Sumpolec tells the tale of a struggling high school-age girl in her novel "The Masquerade."  Beka’s mother has died in a tragic accident, and Beka must deal with her grief and face the secret that the grief brings to the forefront of her life.  Finally, Beka decides to be honest with herself; her family and friends; and most importantly, with God.

The story is compelling, and Sumpolec writes with great insight into the mind and heart of a troubled youth.  She has made good use of her past experience as a family counselor and public school teacher, effectively portraying both conflicted thoughts and feelings and youthful interests.

But unfortunately, Sumpolec breaks one of the cardinal rules of fiction writing: “Show, don’t tell.”  Much too often, she explains in the first-person narrative how Beka thinks and feels rather than simply showing it through the action and dialogue.  The effect is patronizing for readers when Beka states the obvious.  It’s as if Sumpolec is hitting readers over their heads with her points, making the novel seem like a lecture at times.  Even the metaphor she employs throughout the text – of Beka as a butterfly who first is trapped and then finds freedom – is so obvious and overdone that it’s a cliché.

That’s really a shame, because the book’s story is effective enough to illustrate the points without such heavy-handedness.  Teen girls should still enjoy and relate to "The Masquerade" if they reach the end without losing interest.

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