As we come back from our break it seems like everyone’s unveiling new features (have you heard about Line Catchers?), and I’m not one to argue. With this, I bring you Flashback! It’s basically exactly what you’d expect from the name: I head back to the middle readers and review a book I loved back when I read absome lighter topics (because nobody wants to hear me review The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest again (although there’s a fascinating biography of Stieg Larsson written by his lifepartner Eva Gabrielsson that I’d kind of like to reivew)). It could take off, it could sink dismally, but I think I’ll give it a try. My first flashback: Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Oh, and did I forget to mention the fun part? I’m not allowed to read any synopses, selections from the book, reviews, blurbs, etcetera for the first half of the review. The only thing I get to look at is the cover. Then I do my research (aka I read all or part of the book) and we see how bad my memory is.
I read Double Identity in fifth grade, and I really loved it. A lot. A few years ago I was at a bookstore and saw it used (I’ve mentioned previously that I have a habit of collecting books I liked when I was little *cough*theres’s a reason I have storage underneath my bed *cough*) and it’s been living in my house ever since. I reread it a while back, but it’s still been about three years since I last had a refresher.
[SPOILERS] but not necessarily correct spoilers:
As far as I can remember, main character Whoseit (no I don’t remember her name… Brittany? Elizabeth? Hailey?) has lived a life full of normalcy. Sure, her parents are weird and overprotective, but everyone’s are, and sure, they’re kinda stuck in the past, but that’s no reason to worry, right? Whoseit has a thing for peach flavored instant oatmeal (a surprisingly important part of the book), and really loves swimming.
One day nearing her twelfth (is it? Or sixteenth? I don’t know) birthday, Whoseit’s mom loses her mind. Her dad whisks away his wife and daughter in a car where he got the electric window controls switched out for the roller kind (also important), and leaves Whoseit in the hands of an aunt and adultish cousin (Jordan?) who are pretty weird. They treat Whoseit like someone very fragile and spend a lot of time looking like they’ve seen a ghost. As Whoseit settles in at her new home (by the way, where are her parents? She tries not to think about that), she realizes that it’s not just her eccentric family members. The whole town turns pale and wobbly when Whoseit enters the scene (she’s basically the antiKesha, the party always stops when she walks in), but nobody explains anything to her. As she realizes more and more that there’s something big she hasn’t been let in on, papa Whoseit sends a perplexing package full of cash and identification papers (I think).
(About here is where things go fuzzy for me, so hold on to your hats) It soon comes out that Whoseit is her parent’s second draft at raising children. The first was killed in a car crash around her twelfth (we’re going with twelfth) birthday and, get this, Whoseit is that girl’s clone. As hard as the parents tried to replicate exactly Whoseit 1.0’s childhood and upbringing, they kept getting overprotective of their daughter (they knew what was going to happen next, and sometimes they didn’t want that thing to happen), and ended up with, in Whoseit 2.0’s opinion, an inferior second choice.
After that discovery things sort of blew up and there was an evil scientist running around trying to catch Whoseit and figure out how to clone people but everything worked out well and Whoseit made it past the date of Whoseit 1.0’s death, which meant she was finally living her own life. The end. Good book.
Major apologies to anyone I might’ve offended with that one (really though, sorry). Let’s see how well I did.
First off, main character’s name is Bethany, not Whoseit. Secondly, it’s Bethany’s thirteenth birthday, not twelfth (though I was surprisingly close). Third, I was pretty close to getting Bethany 1.0’s name, Elizabeth, but I kind of thought both girls had the same name. But still. I was close. The evil scientist I remembered was actually someone who’d paid Bethany’s dad to clone him, then got caught embezzling from his science company and put in jail, so Bethany’s dad just cloned Elizabeth. The dude just wanted to know what happened to his clone. Cousin’s name: Joss, not Jordan. Indeed, Bethany’s father does send her an envelope full of cash and birth certificates, which kind of tips her off that there’s a little more to the story than she expected. All in all though, I did better than I had expected.
Quite honestly, rereading Double Identity was not what I’d hoped, but I guess that’s to be expected. I’ve grown a lot as a reader and a person (not to mention I’ve spent countless hours analyzing plotlines and symbols and all that literary stuff so I’m a little bit of a snob where I wasn’t when I was still in elementary school). It was kind of a blast from the past, which I find worthwhile. Also, Double Identity was a pretty solid middle reader. I’d give it 3/5 stars.