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Fake ID is a mystery novel for young adults published in 2014 by Lamar Giles. Told in the first person, teenager Nick Pearson narrates his family’s experience in the Witness Protection Program, his father having had ties to a violent and vindictive mafia boss. The family is constantly required to move from city to city, changing identities in response to Pearson’s father’s constant criminal activity. Pearson finally finds solace in one of the new towns, getting a job on the school newspaper, a best friend named Eli, and a romantic interest in Eli’s sister, Reya. His general anxiety about being forced to move again is suddenly overshadowed when he discovers Eli’s dead body. Though it is ruled a suicide, he suspects that other agents are at work, and investigates the death, finding revelations about the hidden life of the town and his family and friends. Saturated also with thick racial tension between Pearson, who is African-American, and the Latino community, the book hones in on the intrinsic difficulty of having healthy and loyal interpersonal relationships in a fraught social environment.
The book begins with an air of mystery, as Nick Pearson dives straight into his experiences with the Witness Protection Program and his familial ties to the mob. At his first day in a new high school in the town of Stepton, he immediately runs into trouble when he accidentally collides with Reya, a girl whom he finds beautiful. Zach, her ex-boyfriend and the school bully, accosts Pearson and beats him up despite the girl’s protests. Suddenly, another classmate intervenes in the fight: it is Eli, a member of the school newspaper and Reya’s brother. Pearson and Eli quickly start a friendship. Pearson is intrigued by Eli’s knack for deep journalistic research outside the context of the school paper. Certain hints, many from Eli’s research, point to underlying turmoil in Stepton.
Pearson goes on to reveal some contextual information about his historical ties to the mob. Four years before, his name was actually Tony, and he lived in Philadelphia with his family. His father worked for a prominent gangster named Kreso Maric, directly handling his money. After a run-in with the police, his father outed Maric, who ran off into the shadows. This latest flop is what has brought them to Stepton. Bordered by a noxious chemical plant that feeds into the atmosphere, an underlying sickness seems to pervade everyday life.
Pearson imparts that after moving cities, his father became part of a project called Whispertown. When he tells him, he seems extremely nervous. Pearson soon realizes that Whispertown is the same project Eli is investigating. Yet, Eli’s warmth makes him feel a companionship he hasn’t been able to find in his previous homes and identities. He says that in previous towns, his new classmates avoided him because of his strange circumstances and inability to relate a deep historical background. He decides to join the Whispertown project.
Soon after, Pearson learns that Eli has been found dead at home. Reya, distraught about losing her brother, teams up with Pearson to find the culprit. They track a series of clues through Stepton and learn that the mayor is connected to Whispertown. The novel culminates as they discover that Dustin, the mayor’s son, with whom Pearson had shared progress on the case, was Eli’s murderer. They also learn that Whispertown is simply a code word for the Witness Protection Program, which the mayor was abusing to find the real identity of Pearson and locate his father so that the mob boss could exact revenge.
Fairfaxx " Print Redbubble Art "mclovin Fake IDcarries in its narrative the unique emotional schema of a protagonist who is subjected to the forced loss of identity by an irresponsible father and a complicated world outside his control. He ultimately overcomes his condition and builds an identity for himself, not by reintegrating into some idyllic social scene, but by suffering the loss of a friend and striving to avenge his death through diligent research. In the end, Pearson’s suffering equips him with the exact tools he needs to adjust to and accept his transient life.