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Double Identity

Review

Double Identity

Bethany, aged twelve, is in a car with her sobbing mother and burdened father. Neither parent will tell her where they're going or why her mother has been crying for months. They arrive at a small town in the middle of the night, where she is informed that she will stay with someone her parents call "Aunt Myrlie." Bethany's mother is beside herself with grief, and has a very difficult time parting with her daughter. Then, astoundingly, her overly protective parents drive off and leave her with the stranger.

Bethany tries calling her parents' cell phones to beg them to come back, but all she gets are "this number is out of service" messages. The next morning, her father calls to tell her, puzzlingly, that she's safer where she is than with them. She overhears Myrlie tell her father that Bethany must learn about Elizabeth, which is not the name of anyone Bethany knows. There are more mysteries, too, such as the way Myrlie is shocked that Bethany loves to swim and the fact that Myrlie (who actually turns out to be Bethany's aunt) always introduces her as a visitor instead of her niece.

The questions keep coming quickly and furiously: Whose memorial makes Myrlie so uncomfortable? Why do people act like they've seen a ghost when they meet Bethany?

But Bethany realizes that she's accustomed to unanswered questions, having lived with them all her life: Why does her family move constantly? Why are her parents so old? Why have they never had contact with relatives?

When the truth is finally revealed, it's astonishing --- and devastating. Even in her confusion and distress, Bethany realizes that the revelation doesn't explain everything about her odd life, or why some strange man appears to be stalking her.

This is yet another triumph for the amazing Margaret Peterson Haddix (if you haven't yet read RUNNING OUT OF TIME or AMONG THE HIDDEN, they should be the next books on your reading list!) Haddix is a master at combining a dazzlingly original concept with suspenseful writing --- and she delivers both in DOUBLE IDENTITY.

That said, I felt that the ending was just a bit on the anticlimactic side with a rather too tidy resolution. However, I still wholeheartedly recommend this book for its thought-provoking twist on the theme "be yourself" and for the noteworthy suspense, which builds throughout the story.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on March 27, 2007

Double Identity
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2007
  • Genres: Thriller
  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0689873794
  • ISBN-13: 9780689873799