Beyond Me…A Principal Mystery by Mary Sawyer
Mary Sawyer’s Beyond Me…A Principal Mystery begins with a brutal murder that seems to have no clear motive and an unlikely child criminal. As the story unfolds, Stella Page, the diligent principal of Edgewater Middle School, and Kate Barthorpe, a pregnant sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, become unlikely partners. The two women each do their own special kind of investigatory work to discover how a young indigenous girl named Lillian ended up covered in blood and holding a knife, seemingly the perpetrator of a callous crime. Sawyer’s novel paints a picture of how difficult life can be for individuals living in modern New Brunswick in a First Nations community. She reveals that these people are made to feel less than equal, facing racism and stereotyping on a daily basis. In spite of their trying circumstances, Stella and Kate are strong female characters, both hard working and independent. Through their exhaustive efforts, they solve a murder and help to tear apart some of the stereotypes that exist about gender and race.
Beyond Me…A Principal Mystery is an exciting novel with well-developed characters that one comes to know and love. The humanness of Sawyer’s characters can make sections of the book difficult to read because the novel touches on a number of highly sensitive social issues such as drug abuse, child sexual abuse, and homicide. The novel should be read with both mind and heart braced for troublesome but meaningful conflict. Stella and Kate are excellent female role models as they navigate their way through the hardships that come when social work falls short and middle school and murder overlap.
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