PRETENDING TO BE ERICA by Michelle Painchaud


Age Range: 14 - 17
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Raised up by her foster father to become the world's best con artist, Violet's disguised as a girl who's both very rich and very dead.

Ever since Vegas con man Sal found 5-year-old Violet in the foster system, he's raised her to commit the perfect crime. Now that she's 17, it's finally time for Violet to go into deep cover as kidnapped Erica Silverman. Erica, stolen 13 years ago from her kindergarten, is still the subject of her wealthy mother’s relentless search. If Violet can convince Mrs. Silverman she’s her daughter, she'll have one shot at the fabled Silverman painting, a $60 million jackpot. Sal's given Violet a lifetime of training in crime and skullduggery, three plastic surgeries over a mere five years, a bone broken and reset to match an old break of Erica's, even a fake DNA sample. Yet the simple realities of high school are overwhelming for previously home-schooled Violet. To maintain her cover, Violet-as-Erica makes friends and is surprised to find she truly likes them. Realism sometimes takes a back seat to premise (Sal's astronomical resources, connections, and skills apparently don't preclude his raising Violet in poverty), but the focus is more on Violet's moral qualms and the difficulty of maintaining two distinct identities. 

A thriller premise with a satisfying shades-of-gray resolution. (Suspense. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-670-01497-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2015


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