A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Genuine Fraud is a dark thriller that includes murder, drinking, kissing, and mild sex. One of the main characters, a petite teen with a secretive past, clearly enjoys how strong she feels when she fights. ("To be a physically powerful woman -- it was something. You could go anywhere, do anything, if you were difficult to hurt.") There's a fair amount of violence and plenty of scenes describing what it's like to live in privileged glamour. Occasional swearing includes "f--k" and its variations.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
GENUINE FRAUD opens with Jule West Williams, a white 18-year-old without a family who's staying at a luxurious resort in Mexico, spending her days swimming and studying Spanish. She's strong-willed, secretive, and always on guard. This story moves "forward" in reverse, a tribute to Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Readers quickly find out that Jule's best friend, Imogen Sokoloff, is dead. Immie is wealthy and captivatin, and she hangs out on Martha’s Vineyard when she's not in college. As the story unfolds, readers ask themselves how many times you can really reinvent yourself.
Is it any good?
The language in this dark mystery is absorbing and he plot moves along at a brisk pace, but it's not straightforward. It takes takes extra work to follow the story's reverse-chronological order. Also, while the settings are captivating, neither Jule nor Imogen are very likeable. ("I am the center of the story now," Jule said to herself. "I don't have to weigh very little, wear very little, or have my teeth fixed. I am the center.") Still, the themes of the novel -- holding onto your secrets and finding out who you are -- keep the reader guessing until the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how class and privilege are portrayed in Genuine Fraud. Imogen was adopted into money, and Jule was not. What challenges does this difference present?
Genuine Fraud explores the desire to leave the past behind and start a new life somewhere else. Why do you think this theme is popular in books, movies, and TV shows?
How far would you go to protect your secrets? How honest are you with your family about important things going on in your life? Where do you think the line is between regular privacy and keeping secrets?
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