Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 21st 2015
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Crime.
My rating: 4 stars
We Were Liars meets Heist Society in a riveting debut!
Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again.
Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle.
But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.
This book is about Violet a seventeen-year-old con artist who has been trained since she was five to impersonate Erica Silverman. Erica is the daughter of a very rich family that went missing at the age of five and has never been found. Sal the man that adopted and trained Violet met the man that took Erica, in prison and learned that she is dead. This gave him an idea for a great con and all he needed was a girl the same age as Erica with the same blood type. He choose Violet because she looked similar to Erica and was a good listener and groomed her to become someone else. Violet’s task is to fool everyone into thinking she’s Erica, then locate, and steal a legendary painting from her parents. It is a difficult job but one Violet feels sure she can pull off. The more time she spends as Erica however the more she likes it. She likes having friends, a loving mother and time to be a normal teenager, things that has never had a place in her life of petty crime. The problem is that the more she cares about Erica’s mom the guiltier she feels about conning her, because the truth is that Erica is dead and Violet knows where she is buried and could, if she choose to, give Erica’s parents real closure. This leaves Violet with a difficult choice, either she steals the painting like Sal wants her to or she reveals herself and risks going to jail.
I really liked this book; it was so intriguing to read about a girl that has been raised as a con artist. Violet had so many conflicting emotions and found it really hard to be two separate people. In fact, she found it so hard that sometimes she couldn’t even tell if her emotions were fake or real, Erica’s or Violet’s. She has had a bad life with Sal, but never realised it until she, as Erica experience what it’s like to have a loving mother.
I felt so bad for Violet. She had such a bad upbringing and is in a no win situation because no matter what she does she will lose the new people in her life and she really cares about them.
I really hated Sal. I mean he adopted a five year old and taught her that her only purpose in life was to become Erica and steal things. That is despicable, wrong and super damaging. Just ugh! I can understand fully why Violet found it so shocking that Ms. Silverman hugged her and really cared after being raised by that monster.
I so wanted everything to work out for Violet and although I knew it was basically impossible I really wanted Ms. Silverman to adopt the real her. She was just an amazing mother and I think she and Violet needed each other.
In conclusion, this was a good story with many great relationships, both real and fake, that really focusses on becoming who you want to be. If you like, cons, contemporaries and drama this one is for you. 🙂