Gr. 5-8. The author of Escape from Memory (2003) and the Shadow Children series has penned another suspenseful sf novel guaranteed to keep readers riveted. After her mother suffers a nervous breakdown, 12-year-old Bethany Cole is deposited with Myrlie Wilker, an aunt of whom she has never heard. Myrlie and several other residents of Sanderfield, Illinois, do a double take when they see Bethany--for she reminds them of Elizabeth, Bethany's heretofore-unknown older sister, who died some 20 years earlier. In carefully crafted, gripping prose, Haddix slowly reveals the family secrets that have been kept from Bethany all these years: her sister's death, her parent's desperate grief, and the deal they made with a wealthy businessman. The ending is a little too neat, but Haddix's fans aren't likely to notice; secondary themes concerning cloning ethics and personal identity are also nicely handled, which makes this a good companion to Nancy Werlin's Double Helix (2004). ((Reviewed October 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Left with an aunt she's just met in a town full of people who inexplicably recognize her, only-child Bethany discovers that her parents had another life--and another child--before her. Haddix uses the issue of cloning to amplify normal issues of sibling rivalry and parental love, but occasionally loses focus when pursuing intrigue rather than emotion. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Bethany's life has always been safe and protected; her parents comfort her, spoil her and spend frequent quality time with her. But one day, when she's almost 13, her parents bundle her into the car and drive her to Sanderfield, Ill., where they leave her with an aunt she never knew she had. Aunt Myrlie is kind, but nobody will tell Bethany where her parents have gone. Why do Myrlie, her adult daughter and the Sanderfield townspeople stare at Bethany as if she's a ghost? Who is this mysterious "Elizabeth" she keeps hearing about? As Bethany finds answers to some of her questions, a mysterious man follows her around town. Tough philosophical puzzles are raised here, though explored too lightly, as Bethany confronts identity, free will, ethics vs. law and whether parents should live vicariously through their children. A surprisingly comforting resolution concludes this safe but compelling thriller. Bethany's discovery of her own identity makes for a mystery well worth solving. (Science fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection
Some parents are protective, but Bethany's are positively obsessive when it comes to their daughter. They hardly let her out of their sight, which can be uncomfortable for a nearly 13-year-old girl. Then, after Bethany's mother has been getting more and more forgetful and depressed, the family is suddenly shuttled off to visit an aunt Bethany has never even met. She's left with Aunt Myrlie, confused and abandoned. Piece by piece, Bethany learns the story of how she came to exist. After the tragic death of Elizabeth, her parents' first child, Bethany's scientist father managed to clone another daughter from Elizabeth's cells. The family has been hiding the truth ever since, but now Bethany's father's former employer has caught up with them, with a personal score to settle. Margaret Peterson Haddix raises provocative questions about personal identity: whether a clone is a recreation of another being, or an individual unto him/herself, and whether cloning can represent an attempt at redemption. The motives that drive Dalton, the unethical ex-employer, may seem incomprehensible and confusing to some young readers, but on the whole this is a timely thriller. Recommended. Catherine M. Andronik, Library Media Specialist, Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, Connecticut © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Haddix (the Shadow Children series) releases another suspenseful pageturner here narrated by Bethany Cole. As the novel opens, Bethany is anxious; her father has barely let her out of his sight and her mother has been weeping for months. Now, a few days before her 13th birthday, her father has put the two of them in the car, headed West. He leaves Bethany with her Aunt Myrlie and drives off with no explanation. The only clue Bethany has is what she heard her father say to her aunt, "She doesn't know anything about Elizabeth." Bethany is determined to learn why she has been left with an aunt she never knew existed, and what the mysterious Elizabeth has to do with it all. Later, Bethany appears to be in danger from a stalker--perhaps she is not the only one searching for answers. Haddix conveys Bethany's dismay and fear through believable dialogue and thoughts--the girl's growing awareness of uncanny similarities between herself and Elizabeth (their love of Froot Loops and tough vocabulary words)--and believably charts the heroine's slow warming to her aunt and cousin. Bethany's gradual feelings of anger and resentment towards her parents are particularly poignant. Haddix's timely novel raises provocative issues about what makes an individual unique, with both compassion and clarity. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)[Page 66]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 5-8 -One October evening, Bethany's parents drive her to another state to stay with an aunt she never knew existed. Left confused and without a way to contact her parents, the 12-year-old tries to figure out the reason behind their strange behavior and learns some family secrets in the process. It turns out that she is the clone of her sister, who was killed years earlier in a tragic automobile accident, and she is being hunted by a man who wants to expose her secret existence for his own benefit. Although there is not much action, the twists and turns of the suspense-filled plot are more than enough to keep readers interested. When one question is answered, another one is raised. Readers will relate to Bethany's feelings of abandonment, as well as her struggle to set herself apart from the sister she never knew but with whom she shares so much. This quick, engaging read is a good choice for reluctant readers.-Michele Capozzella, Chappaqua Public Library, NY[Page 136]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
Bethany's parents have smothered her with constant attention for all of her almost-thirteen years. So she is terrified and angry when they drop her off with an aunt whom Bethany never knew existed and drive off into the night with no explanation. To add to the mystery, Aunt Myrlie and her daughter, Joss, are shocked that Bethany so strongly resembles a girl named "Elizabeth," whom Bethany suspects is now dead. Bethany gradually uncovers information about her parents that reveal very different people from the ones she knows. When an ex-convict starts tailing Bethany and asking for her father's whereabouts, she realizes that solving the mystery may be a matter of life and death Haddix is an old hand at creating suspenseful novels suitable for middle and junior high school readers-the Shadow Children series, The House on the Gulf (Simon & Schuster, 2004) and Escape from Memory (2003/VOYA October 2003). Bethany is a slightly spoiled preteen who finds the search for identity more complicated than most. She handles her frightening situation with a wry humor that is sure to appeal to 'tween readers. Set in the near future, the book alludes to the passé technologies of the present and hints at developments that might affect Bethany's very existence. While the science fiction elements of this book are loosely handled, the twisting plot and spine-tingling creepiness make it a sizzling recommendation for mystery fans.-Diane Emge Double Identity is overall a good book. Being set in the future added another angle of interest to the book. But it seemed slightly unrealistic that such overprotective parents would leave their child in a foreign environment, even if it was for her safety. Also the ending was confusing when it discussed the cloning. The book was very interesting though. 4Q 4P-Molly Teague, Teen Reviewer 4Q 5P M J Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.