Pretending to Be Erica

Michelle Painchaud. Viking, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-01497-2
In Painchaud’s sometimes farfetched but psychologically sophisticated debut, 17-year-old Violet has assumed the identity of Erica Silverman, a girl from an affluent family who was kidnapped 13 years ago. Violet is the foster daughter of a con man named Sal who spent 12 years training her in the art of impersonation and reading people’s emotions in order to manipulate them. Violet has had multiple cosmetic surgeries to resemble Erica; Sal aims to have Violet gain Mrs. Silverman’s trust and eventually steal a valuable painting. But several people might be on to Violet, including a psychologist, two students, and a private investigator (Violet isn’t the first person to impersonate Erica). Furthermore, Violet’s growing ambivalence over her deception and her desire to maintain honest friendships threaten to break her carefully constructed façade. Painchaud skillfully shifts between first-person (with Violet as Erica) and third-person (as Violet recalls her disturbing upbringing). Many readers will likely hope for Violet’s fraud to go undetected even as they wish her to be freed from the life that circumstances have led her to steal. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 07/21/2015
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-14-750892-8
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