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Double Identity    by Margaret Peterson Haddix order for
Double Identity
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Bethany's mother has been crying nonstop since her dad hustled them into the car and they set out on a journey with no obvious destination. After traveling for miles and miles though country that Bethany does not recognize, she is glad just to stop. She doesn't even know which state they are in, though it must be further south than their home in Philadelphia since the trees still have their autumn colors.

Her dad is greeted warmly while Bethany and her mother, still sobbing, wait in the car. She is amazed to find she is being left with a woman introduced as her aunt. She didn't know she had an aunt. She thought her family of three was all there was. A broken man leaves Bethany with her aunt, but he does leave despite her protests. He promises to call, but won't say when they'll be back, leaving her to feel abandoned and wondering what she did so wrong that her overly protective parents would leave her with no explanation or plan to return.

Bethany is left to discover that she had an older sister, Elizabeth, who would now be in her twenties if she had lived. People in the small town of Sanderfield are quick to notice that Bethany looks exactly like Elizabeth. Why didn't her parents tell her they had a daughter before her? Why did they leave her and is she in danger or are they? Her aunt Myrlie knows no more than she does, but did know Elizabeth well. From knowing Elizabeth, Myrlie seems to know a great deal about Bethany whom she met for the first time when her niece was dropped on her doorstep. Bethany quickly tires of being compared to Elizabeth.

Bethany is a precocious child who pieces her life with her parents together with events in their past life before she was born. Haddox writes excellent, believable clues to allow Bethany to come up with her own answers for why so many things were left unexplained in her life. A good read, Double Identity is a fast moving mystery/thriller that keeps you in suspense from beginning to end.

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