Young Adult Literature


Counterfeit Son
by Elaine Marie Alphin


Grade 8-10-A gripping but not altogether convincing psychological thriller. Cameron Miller's father was a serial killer who preyed on young boys; when he dies in a police shoot-out, Cameron takes on the identity of Neil Lacey, one of his father's victims who was abducted and supposedly murdered six years earlier. The Lacey family accepts "Neil" into their home with few questions, but he lives in fear that old dental records and a suspicious police officer will expose his lies. Finally, when someone from Cameron's past threatens his new family, the 14-year-old must decide whether to tell his "parents" the truth. The engaging premise will keep readers on the edge of their seats, though some of the plot points strain credibility. For example, the story depends on the fact that the parents refuse a DNA test to prove the boy's identity. The novel deals with the years of sexual and physical abuse that Cameron endured at the hands of his father, but only on a surface level and never in graphic detail. Many of the interactions between Cameron and his new family are quite moving, especially in the scenes where he expects punishment and finds kindness and love instead. Counterfeit Son ends with a clever twist that should surprise readers and leave them well satisfied with this solidly written, fast-paced read.
Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


-Child Abuse


-2001 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel