Pretending to be Erica

Pretending to be Erica

Pretending to Be Erica

by Michelle Painchaud

Genre: YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Published: July 21st 2015
by Penguin




Erica has it all - wild popularity, debutante beauty, scintillating smarts.

But she can’t tell the truth. That her name is Violet, not Erica. That she’s sixteen, not seventeen. That the real Erica, the one who was kidnapped at the age of four, is dead.

Violet is pretending to be Erica. She has DNA from the body the police haven’t even found, plastic surgery, and convincing memories. Violet is her conman father’s protégé, and this is their last sting - trick Erica’s mother into giving Violet the code to a priceless painting.


The microwave clock spills into midnight, and the marionette girl walks up the stairs to sleep in her puppet bed in the puppet house, filled with not-puppet people.

They are made of flesh and blood, and she is made of lies and wood.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked Pretending to be Erica up, but it certainly delivered in both the premise and the execution. This is an eloquently written and thought-provoking novel.

More than a decade ago, Erica Silverman, the young daughter of a wealthy heiress, was kidnapped and never seen again. Years later, she finally returns. Except she’s not Erica.

17-year-old Violet has prepared her whole life for this con: masquerade as Erica, get inside the Silverman mansion, and steal the Silverman’s billion dollar painting.

Violet is an incredible and well-developed protagonist. She is intelligent, observant, and careful. Yet, she also possesses the ability to think for herself. Eventually she realizes that she envies the normalcy of Erica’s life – friends, family, school, crushes – and that she wants it for herself. Her struggle of wanting a normal life continually overlaps with her sense of duty, and it’s fascinating to see how it plays out.

I’m the shadow of a dead girl. A shadow does not have friends.
A dead girl does not feel guilt.

Pretending to be Erica is a gripping read from start to finish. Violet is a protagonist you can’t help but root for, and the way Painchaud incorporates an emphasis on friends and family is wonderful.


52 thoughts on “Pretending to be Erica

  1. YAY I’m glad you liked this one too! I was pleasantly surprised, especially considering the short length of the book. I loved the internal dialogue and Violet’s struggle not to lose herself to Erica. Everything gets a bit tricky as Violet starts to love those around her. Oh gosh the ending was so bittersweet! Great review, Z <3

    1. The internal dialogue & Violet’s character was what I loved so much about it too. And that ending too! Thanks Rachel – glad you loved it as much as I did. 🙂

  2. OMG SO OBVIOUSLY I NEED THIS BOOK THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN 4-STARS. *dashes about wildly wanting it* I love crimey heist books, although I kind of was hesitant on this one because it feels obvious that she’ll enjoy being Erica by the end? But hehe, if you like it, I will. ;D

  3. I’ve been waiting reviews to start coming in for Pretending to be Erica because I wanted to see how it was executed. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it and it sounds like a great thriller, which I’m always on the hunt for. Lovely review as always, Zoe!

  4. This. Sounds. So. Wonderful. How have I neglected hearing about this until now? Mostly my brain is screaming at me to find out what happened to Erica to allow Violet to be able to take here place… Lovely as always! ♥

  5. I have to admit: I haven’t heard of this book before your review, but the synopsis really intrigued me! It sounds like something I’d really enjoy, so I’m adding it on Goodreads now! 😀 I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Zoe – great review! <3

    Denise | The Bibliolater

  6. Oh, this sounds like a really interesting plot. I think it’s kind of scary, even, don’t you? I’m glad you liked it and that the protagonist was well-developed; it would probably be easy to botch such a story.

    Oh, I tagged you for the Book Fangirling Blog Award ( – I’m not sure whether you do tags or if you’ve done this one before, but I’d love to read your answers! Have a nice week! 🙂

    1. So glad it sounds appealing to you Kaja! It really is amazing. 🙂 And thank you so much for the tag – that made my day! I don’t usually do tags, but this one sounds so fun I’m definitely going to have to consider doing it. Thank you!

  7. WOW, this sounds really intriguing. I feel like so often when I come and visit your blog I find new amazing books to add to my TBR that I haven’t found anywhere else. This sounds really interesting, and you gave it 4 stars – so I gotta get my hands on a copy soon!! 🙂

    1. Awww…this made my day! I am so glad to hear that Anissa! <3 I hope if you do end up getting a copy of it that you enjoy it as much as I did. xx

  8. This sounds REALLY good. I have heard good things, even though it isn’t usually the type of book I’d pick up. I like that you can root for her, even though she’s running this con! That takes some good character development. Fabulous review, I will have to move this one up on my TBR shelf 😀

  9. Ooooh! I usually don’t like the stories where a character is kidnapped and they THEMSELVES return. While I do root for this scenario always irl, I find that in books I just don’t connect with them at all when they return and it’s just a really hard situation to read through. However, this sounds like a really thought-provoking read indeed nad I’m seriously intrigued as to how this all ends :O I’m so glad you liked this Zoe and thanks so much for putting this on my radar!

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

    1. It really is thought-provoking and I’m so glad to hear you’re intrigued, even if it isn’t something you feel you’d typically like. Thank YOU for your lovely comment!

  10. Holy shit. This book sounds seriously insane! Going to so much trouble just to carry off a heist? Training her entire life to pose as a dead child coming back as a teen? I love books that are on the verge of making your skin crawl and I neeeeed this book in my life Zoe. Thank you so, so much for putting it on my radar, I actually haven’t seen this one around at all before now <3 Fabulous review!

  11. YES ZOE! This is honestly the first positive review I’ve read for it, haha. I kept checking reviews before pub, which weren’t all that flattering(and no one I knew either) so yay!She is definitely my kind of MC. I’m not afraid to read it now, so thank you!

  12. I JUST ordered this book last night, haha, so obviously I jumped to read your review right away. This makes me so happy you liked it, and even more excited to read it. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while, but since it’s a debut, and I felt like NO ONE had read it yet, well, I didn’t know what to expect, at all. I’m so happy to hear that Violet is a great MC, and I think I will root for her, too! Can’t wait to read it!
    Thank you for this review 😀

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