Monday, January 20, 2014

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2007

155370"So my only protection is a kindergarten teacher and a ninety-eight-pound female minister....And they don't even believe I'm in danger."
As Bethany approaches her thirteenth birthday, her parents act more oddly than usual. Her mother cries constantly, and her father barely lets Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the entire family into the car, drives across several state lines -- and leaves Bethany with an aunt she never knew existed. Bethany has no idea what's going on. She's worried her mom and dad are running from some kind of trouble, but she can't find out because they won't tell her where they are going. Bethany's only clue is a few words she overheard her father tell her aunt: "She doesn't know anything about Elizabeth." But Aunt Myrlie won't tell Bethany who Elizabeth is, and she won't explain why people in her small town react to Bethany as if they've seen a ghost. The mystery intensifies when Bethany gets a package from her father containing four different birth certificates from four different states, with four different last names -- and thousands of dollars in cash. And when a strange man shows up asking questions, Bethany realizes she's not the only one who's desperate to unravel the secrets of her past.

I have read every single book by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and this book is still one of my absolute favorites, a reading stand-by that never gets old.

Bethany's parents put her in the car, drive for days, and won't answer any of her questions about what's going on. Her mother has been crying for no apparant reason for the past few months. She's frightened, and doesn't know what's going on with the parents who usually take such good care of their one and only darling. Then they drop her off at a house with a woman claiming to be her Aunt Myrlie, without saying when they'll be back. She must learn what is going on with her parents, and why everyone who sees her acts like she's supposed to be dead (note: not a living-dead book! Thought I should say that . . . ), and who is this Elizabeth she heard her father mention to Myrlie (i.e. "she doesn't know anything about Elizabeth")? Also, who is the man who seems to almost be stalking her, and what does he want with her parents? Bethany struggles to find answers, but the more she gets the more she doesn't know if she really wants to know the answer to her questions.

I've read this book at least five times, and I know the big ending. I still love to read it anyway. The characters are lovingly crafted and engaging, big questions are raised, and I just love the big advice theme in the novel - Don't ask why did something happen, just ask what you're going to do next. I totally recommend this to any and all who are considering it, I think it might technically be called a thriller ('m not clear on that, thought), but it is very appropriate, the violence is practically nonexistent, and the main struggle is a phycological one. A wonderful book all around, and maybe you'll even consider picking up one of her other books!

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