Rated 5 stars ***** (2013. Orca. 186 pp.)
After spending his early years shuffling between foster homes, 15-year-old Danny is sold to a con artist. He and Harley spend years on the road where he learns to lie, cheat, steal and scam others. Despite not knowing his own name or birthday, life with Harley is better than what he’d endured in the past so he doesn’t complain.
When Harley is killed in the midst of one of their cons, Danny is in danger of being sent back to what he called the Bad Time. At a youth shelter he gets the idea to take on the identity of Danny Dellomondo, a boy who’d disappeared from his home in Canada three years earlier. Despite not even looking like the real Danny, he is accepted by the family. He manages to nervously fit in while finding a bit of romance with another troubled teen named Gillian.
It doesn’t take long before one of the detectives assigned to the Dellomondo case appears to be suspicious. Danny will have to call on all the scammer tricks in his arsenal if he expects to not wind up in the Bad Time once again.
Interestingly Staunton based this book on a real person who pretended to be a missing teen in 1997, detailed in “The Chameleon” by David Grann.
Recommended for readers aged 14 and older, especially reluctant readers.