A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some good information about choosing passwords as safecracking Maggie reveals how easy they typically are to break. The combination of spying and romance in Also Known As might make it a good choice for teenage reluctant readers.
Even teen non-spies will understand Maggie's feelings of mistrust and sudden distance from her overprotective parents: "My parents and I had always been a team, but now it felt like me versus them, and I didn't know how to play the game." Ultimately, they renew their bonds, promising to keep counting on one another.
Positive Role Models
Maggie is a loyal friend who struggles with how to be honest with the new people in her life -- including a best friend and a boyfriend -- while still working on a spy mission for the greater good.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing too scary. There's a mention of an attempted kidnapping that happened long ago and an assassination. In a faceoff, Maggie and her friends must run from a bad guy; Maggie's friend breaks his nose.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Maggie and her boyfriend hold hands and make out. Her friend becomes a social outcast after having sex with another girl's boyfriend.
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A smattering of swear words, including "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Some name-dropping, such as Burberry and Hunter.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Maggie's friend Roux drinks until drunkenness, and also steals Xanax from her mother. She tells Maggie she used to smoke but quit. There's a party with a lot of alcohol and no parents present; Maggie notices a boy looking stoned there.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.