This is a review on…Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Warning: Spoilers (and I spill the ending).
I found this book at my school library. A friend of my sister’s recommended I read it, so I checked it out and gave it a try. And I’m very glad I did.
Double Identity is set in the future, and it’s about a twelve-year-old girl named Bethany Cole who has the the world’s most overprotective parents. Bethany’s not allowed to go on sleepovers, or go to camp with her friends. If she wants to Roller-blade around the neighborhood, her dad Walter has to follow her in his car.
Things get strange when Walter hustles Bethany and her mom Hillary into the car in the middle of the night, and he drives for hours and doesn’t tell Bethany where they’re going. Eventually he stops the car and tells Bethany she’ll be spending some time with her aunt Myrile—an aunt she’s never even heard of, since Walter and Hillary don’t talk about their childhoods. When Bethany asks why she’s staying with Myrile and where they’ll be going, Walter vaguely says he’s going to get help for Hillary—who’s been crying a lot lately—and that’s it’s for the best if Bethany didn’t go with them.
After her parents leave, Bethany thinks staying with Myrile is stupid, so she calls Walter’s cell, but she discovers the number, along her mom’s, has been disconnected. Bethany reluctantly settles into life with Myrile, but things are weird. When Bethany’s out with Myrile, people look at Bethany and react like they saw a ghost. Bethany has no idea why people are looking are her like that.
One night, Hillary calls, and Bethany answers. Hillary thinks Bethany is Elizabeth- a girl whom Bethany knows nothing about. Walter gets on the phone and says Hillary’s just having a bad reaction to some medicine, but Bethany knows he’s lying. After Walter talks to Myrile, she informs Bethany that Elizabeth is her late sister. Elizabeth died on her thirteenth birthday. She was celebrating at Sinclair Mountain (an amusement park) with her parents and Myrile’s family—herself, her husband Tom and their daughter Joss. There was an accident on the way home, and Tom and Elizabeth died. Hillary was driving so she feels responsible.
After Bethany learns about Elizabeth, Joss comes to visit her, and Joss notices the extreme resemblance between Elizabeth and Bethany. Hillary calls again—this time without Walter’s knowledge—and thinks she is talking to the dying Elizabeth at the hospital. Hillary apologizes for the accident and says she knows Elizabeth will die, but she says that if Walter can save some of Elizabeth’s cells, he can clone her. Shocked, Bethany passes out after hearing this.
Toward the end of the book, it’s revealed that a man named Dalton Van Dyne paid Walter money to clone him, because Dalton was physically abused as a child, and he felt only a clone could love him. Walter agreed to clone Dalton, and he was paid in advance. After Dalton ended up in prison, Walter—feeling Dalton would have another chance and knowing Elizabeth wouldn’t—took Elizabeth’s frozen cells and cloned them four times. Elizabeth’s cloned cells went to four surrogate mothers, one of whom was Hillary. Three of those babies died, but Hillary’s baby—Bethany—lived.
The book ends with Hillary and Walter planting a tree in honor of Bethany near the trees that were planted for Elizabeth and Joss when they were younger.
I really liked this book. I thought the cloning was interesting. I was surprised I liked the book, because I’m not a science fiction/future book person.