This first coming-of-age book in the "Becoming Beka" series by Sarah Anne Sumpolec is published by Moody Publishers.
Masquerade is written for kids ages 13 to 18. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Nine months after Beka's mom is killed in a car accident, Beka still suffers from bad dreams, insomnia and emotions she can't control. She continues to push her Christian family away in an attempt to hide her secret that she is not a Christian and angry. She feels isolated and alone. A new girl at school, Lori, makes friends with her, and Beka is coaxed by an old friend to try out for a play. She gets a part. Beka refuses to tell anyone what is going on emotionally. She makes wrong choices that cause her dad to take her to a psychiatric hospital for help. She explains that she is riddled with guilt for pushing her mom away to hide that she was only pretending to be a Christian. Her dad tells her that her mom knew and prayed for her. A friend's foster mom tells Beka what it means to be a Christian, and Beka gives her life to Jesus. At a New Year's Eve party, Beka realizes that she has feelings for a boy, Mark. By the end of the book, Beka is confident that God is in control of her life.
Lori's mom, Megan, explains to Lori and Beka what it means to be a Christian. Lori believes instantly because she can see God through her foster parents' lives. One of the themes in The Masquerade is God's forgiveness. Beka had made bad choices in her life, including pretending to be a Christian. She wonders if her sins are too big for God to forgive. Megan assures her that God is big enough. All through the book, Beka's family lives out their Christian faith as they attempt to help Beka through her anger at God. They show true concern and do their best to continually forgive her as she hurts them. Mark, the boy she is interested in, claims to be a Christian when Beka confronts him. Mark is living a moral life externally. Beka asks him if he is ashamed of being a Christian.
Beka's dad is a godly, Christian man doing his best to raise his family as a single parent, amid his grief over his wife's death. His decisions are based on godly principles and on prayer. He forgives Beka when she makes mistakes and tells her how much she is loved. Lori's foster mother, Megan, also shows godly authority. She is available at any time for Beka and Lori and eventually leads them both to the Lord.
Other Belief Systems
A girl asks Beka if she and Mark have hooked up. She is surprised that Beka has never made out with anyone. Beka attends two parties where she gets drunk. Boys and girls are making out at these parties.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Beka hides a secret from her family. Because of this secret, she eventually feels trapped in her anger.
Do you ever feel trapped by your choices?
Beka believes the lie that if she is honest with everyone, they will hate her. With help, she realizes this isn't true.
Is there a lie that has been festering in your heart?
With whom can you talk about it?
- A girl accuses Beka of being a prude because Beka doesn't like to party. Both times that Beka parties with this girl, Beka gets drunk and feels sick the next day.
Why do you think under-age drinking is popular even though it's illegal and makes people feel empty and sick afterward?
Is partying an escape?
Have you ever felt the need to escape?
What would be a better alternative to partying?
Have you ever felt pressure to get drunk?
- Beka wants peace and a sense of belonging. She first tries to achieve it by lying about her faith. Instead of feeling as though she belongs, she feels more isolated and angry. She then thinks that she can feel more connected by hanging out with a popular group and partying. Instead, she feels empty and pushes her family away even more. The only place Beka finds peace is through belief in God and confession of sin. God gives Beka hope for change and a peace in her life that she never has felt before.
Where do you go for peace and a sense of belonging?
Have you ever gone anywhere other than to God?
How did it make you feel?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.