Fake ID

Common Sense Media says

Fast-paced tale of family in hiding is gripping, violent.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn about the federal program that protects witnesses in criminal cases by giving them new identities.

Positive messages

Keep cool under pressure. Violence can land you in jail. Protect your family at all costs, even if it means standing up to your dad.

Positive role models

Tony, the young son of a crook under federal protection from mobsters, shows again and again the value of keeping cool instead of lashing out. In one scene, Tony, who is black, talks some white thugs out of beating him with a baseball bat by describing the prison time they will surely serve for a federal hate crime. Tony also stands up to his father, whose shady dealings nearly blow the family's cover: "It took all my willpower not to back down."


One teen dies of blood loss after being slashed with a razor, two more are killed in a crash, and a fourth is shot in the face. A car bomb nearly kills an adult.


Tony and his girlfriend grope each other in a car. Another teen has a baby out of wedlock.


Swearing is used sparingly and for emphasis. "F--k" is used only once, as "f'n." "Ass," "whore," and "d--k" are used once. Some crude Spanish words are also used occasionally: "mierda," "puta," "pendejo."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking takes place in the background at a teen party.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fake ID, about a family in the federal witness protection program, is suspenseful, exciting, and violent. Four teens are killed, one of them shot in the face, as young Tony seeks to save his own life while uncovering a scheme to defraud the government. One sex scene in a car and some drinking at a party are underplayed compared with the murder scenes. Author Lamar Giles is a veteran of adult noir thrillers. Here, for a younger audience, he shows a narrative skill that will keep many readers locked on the page, though some may flinch. 

What's the story?

Tony's dad, a crooked accountant, places his family in the federal witness protection program after testifying against a killer who remains at large. Undercover in a small town, the family remains in danger after Tony discovers his dad is helping the mayor defraud the government. Even if Tony discoverers who murdered his high-school buddy, he'll still have to face his dad.

Is it any good?


FAKE ID makes it a pleasure to follow the supremely confident Tony as he tries to solve the murder of a high-school friend, win the heart of the friend's bereaved sister, outwit some nasty teen thugs, and finally confront his father, whose shady dealings have again endangered the family. Though the reader needs a tight grip to follow the twisting plot, Tony makes the ride worthwhile. In the tradition of great detectives, he keeps his head when someone else in the room is pointing a rifle at it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about thrillers. What makes a good one? How is this one different from a mystery? 

  • What would your family's cover be if you suddenly had to move to another town? 

  • What might be the hardest thing about assuming a fake ID?

Book details

Author:Lamar Giles
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 21, 2014
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 18
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Kindle

This review of Fake ID was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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