3.5 Stars. Double is both a who-dunnit and a tale of a sad lonely boy on his own in England. At first, Double appears to be a case of mistaken identity, but really that storyline is just to pull the reader in. The premise is crazy, unbelievable. - a teenage runaway (Boy #1) who is living in a home for runaway children is thought to be the lost son and brother (Boy #2) of a family that lost a son of theirs two years ago. And this runaway boy (Boy #1) is able to convince the family of Boy #2 - that he is their son. The runaway boy (Boy #1) is "Chap" , however he is believed to be "Cassiel" (Boy #2). When Chap first looks at a picture of the lost and missing Cassiel, Chap thinks it is a picture of himself. The resemblance between the two boys is exact. So what does a lonely boy who has nobody to care for him do? He steps into the life of Cassiel. The act of being Cassiel was almost not a conscious act. The social workers thought he was Cassiel and Chap is so alone, he is desperate to have a family and he is desperate to be someone. If you have read The Likeness by Tana French, then you know the basic (but crazy) set-up.
Double is told from the point of view of Chap (Boy #1). His pain, his insecurity and his loneliness are described in a way that I was able to believe it Chap is desperate for a life, for a family but the life he steps in to is not as perfect as he imagined. He is immediately sucked in to an intrigue of why Cassiel is gone. Every step Chap takes, every word he says, he wonders - would Cassiel have said it this way? Will they know I am not Cassiel? Does she know I am not Cassiel? Chap has such sweet love and appreciate for his new "mom" and his "sister". The love he feels and appreciation he has for having a "home" was truly heartbreaking. It made my heartbreak for children who do not have a home or parents. This ache for love, for relationships was so well-described. Ms. Valentine captures very well the level of insecurity a young unloved and alone in the world boy would feel. My only complaint is there is too much of this fear and inner monologue going on in the story. But hey, it is told from the perspective of a teenaged boy, so it is believable.
In the background of the story is Chap's tale and this is where the beauty of this book lies. Through flashbacks, Chap remembers where he came from, "who" he is and why he is alone and on the run. So woven through the tension of who killed Cassiel and the whole will-they-know-I-am-not-Cassiel-thing is Chap's own background story.
Double has quite a few twists and turns which are done really well. I had a few theories about what happened to Cassiel, who caused his disappearance and why Chap was on the run. But I was only half right. This is a gripping and emotional tale that will likely keep you guessing.
There are young adult books that are clearly written for an older audience level, this is not one of those stories. This is a book that can be enjoyed by the older young adult crowd but is also appropriate for younger adult readers. I am grading it 3.5 stars because in the end, it was a simple story that while moving, was not fantastic. But, I am excited to have my daughter read this book and I am glad to have read it. I think it would make a fantastic movie.
There is no sex or romance in this story but there is a reference to being a virgin. There is some violence, but not graphic. This would be suitable for most 6th grade students and above.