A con artist gets in over her head impersonating a missing girl.
Jolene Chastain is a homeless teen scraping by through general thievery, using her social chameleon skills to pull cons. When a potential mark catches her eye, a little research leads Jo to the mysterious disappearance of 9-year-old Vivienne Weir, orphaned in the seven years since she vanished, and the wealthy Lovecrafts, Vivi’s legal guardians. Seeing a chance at attaining safety, belonging, and a way out of her desperate circumstances, Jo impersonates Vivi and is taken in by the Lovecraft family, finding luxury and love—or so she thinks. Her complex relationship with Vivi’s friend the mercurial Temple Lovecraft is so pivotal that Jo’s first-person narration is addressed directly to Temple in the second person—a choice that engrosses the reader in their dynamic. The deeper Jo is drawn into the Lovecrafts’ world, the more she learns why she’s been able to slip so easily into their lives and the twisted reasons she might not be able to get out alive. Without graphic details or titillation, mentions of rape and prostitution hammer in the plight of impoverished teens. Violence, however, strikes all socio-economic classes in this book. All major characters are white.
A dark, enthralling tale of truth, lies, and parallel lives. (Thriller. 14-adult)