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Also Known As
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Also Known As is a fun novel about a family of spies. As such, there is lock picking, espionage, and mentions of kidnapping and assassination. In a confrontation, a man has his nose broken when a teen girl hits him in the face. There is also some swearing, kissing, and a troubled character who drinks, takes pills, and admits have had sex with another girl's boyfriend. But, overall, the tone is fairly light, and the book's combination of spying and romance might make it a good choice for teenage reluctant readers.
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What's the story?
Maggie cracked her first safe when she was 3. Now that she's 16, the agency that she and her spy parents work for -- a mysterious organization working to \"right wrongs\" around the world -- is giving her an assignment of her own: assimilating as a private high school student in New York City. If she can make friends with a \"cute and funny\" student there, and break into his father's computer, she may be able to stop a magazine from publishing a story about the agency that is \"going to name names.\" But, her mother's warning that spying \"can be more difficult if you get attached,\" proves to be prophetic.
Is it any good?
Don't turn to ALSO KNOWN AS if you're looking for a tightly written spy thriller. But, if you want a novel with a fun premise and a little romance, this book will do the trick. Readers may wish that the author would have peppered her story with a few more spy tricks, and a more believable conclusion, but she does a good job of introducing some realistic themes into an outlandish story. Just like most teens, safecracking genius Maggie deals with trying to be a good friend, feeling suddenly distant from overprotective parents, and uncertainty about who she really is. Oh, and she's also got to stop a bad guy out to expose her spy parents and everyone she loves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cover of Also Known As. Why do you think the publisher decided to depict Maggie this way -- from the waist down in a short skirt? Do you think it conveys the story and her character well?
Why do you think books and movies about spies are so popular? What other novels about spying have you enjoyed?
Do you think Maggie should have befriended a girl who had spread rumors for years and had sex with another girl's boyfriend? Do you think people can change? How do you know when someone deserves a second chance?
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