Who I'm Not - Ted Staunton

The cover is almost as unsettling as the concept. I didn't know much about this work, but when I went to the TD Book Awards gala last November, I couldn't help but pick the book up.

Danny has survived everything life has thrown at him: being abandoned at birth, multiple abusive foster homes, life as a con man in training. But when his latest "protector" dies suddenly, Danny has to think fast or he'll be back in foster care again. He decides to assume the identity of a boy who disappeared three years before. If nothing else, he figures it will buy him a little time. Much to his astonishment, his new "family" accepts him as their own--despite the fact that he looks nothing like their missing relative. But one old cop has his suspicions about Danny--and he's not about to declare the case closed. Inspired by a true story, "Who I'm Not" is a powerful portrait of a boy whose identity is as fluid as a river and as changeable as a chameleon's skin.

I won't lie, I wasn't sure what to expect from Staunton's work. I haven't read anything of his before, so my expectations were non-existent. I really enjoyed it! The concept was intriguing, the characterization was rich with detail, and the pacing was swift. I found myself pulled into Danny's story with little effort on my own part. Though Danny is ultimately (sort of) redeemed, he is a rather unlikeable character for much of the novel, but the complexity of his change over the course of the book will be a huge draw.

The secondary plot wasn't, perhaps, my favourite part of the novel, but I know it is crucial to the ending and it did work for the most part. I wanted a bit more in terms of a resolution, I think. I understand why Staunton left the ending more ambiguous, but I can't help feeling that there could have been more examination of the events surrounding Danny and, well, Danny (don't worry, I'm not ruining everything!) Perhaps it just felt like the last few chapters were rushed toward a resolution instead of being fully examined.

This is definitely a page turner, and the exploration of the foster care system is actually quite interesting. Even more unsettling than the events within the novel is the fact that the novel is based on real life events about a french teen con artist. It's a darn good novel, as far as I'm concerned!



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