Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

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Title: Pretending to Be Erica
Author: Michelle Painchaud
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 272
Source: Won in Twitter Giveaway from @RazorbillCA

Overall: 4 Stars

Summary:
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. 

My Thoughts:
When Violet was a young child, her con man father adopted her from foster care because she bore a resemblance to Erica Silverman, a five-year-old heiress who made headlines across the country when she suddenly disappeared from school. Despite an intense police investigation and appeals for information from the public, the mystery of Erica Silverman's disappearance had remained an open missing persons case for years. No one knows the truth: Erica Silverman is dead.

Violet and her father have dedicated years to devising the perfect con, and when it's time, "Erica Silverman" will make her shocking reappearance, tell a story of being raised by her kidnappers, and be happily reunited with her real family. Plastic surgeries, blackmail, and a fake history—Violet and her father have left no detail unnoticed. However, the end game has never been about touching the Silverman's wealth. What Violet's father really wants is the Silverman Painting, infamous in the Vegas crime world because nobody has ever been able to steal it.

Constantly moving from town to town as her father pulled her into a life of crime, Violet doesn't understand what it means to be normal. She's confident and self-assured in her talents as a con artist, but that kind of personality must be suppressed for her to succeed. Erica is a sweet-natured, good girl who's wary of strangers and always follows rules, everything Violet is not. There are two warring identities within Violet, two very different girls who scream for attention. Violet can't afford to lose her focus, not when a single misstep can unravel years of calculated planning. All eyes are on her—the media, her new classmates and friends, Mrs. Silverman... and a very suspicious private investigator.

The focus in Pretending to Be Erica is less thriller, more psychological as Violet feels increasingly torn and confused about her objective the longer she settles into life as Erica Silverman. Michelle Painchaud's YA debut is thoughtful, well-detailed, and surprisingly, very plausible. I really believed that a crafty girl like Violet could pull off the con of a lifetime, which made reaching the final pages of the novel all the more exciting and intriguing because I had no idea how the book would end! If you're a fan of Mary Elizabeth Summer's Trust Me, I'm Lying and Ally Carter's Heist Society, you won't be able to resist the appeal of Michelle Painchaud's Pretending to Be Erica.

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