After a vicious rumor about her hooking up with Eva’s boyfriend, Amos, in her freshman year, Annalise is the mortal enemy of a trio of friends. They decide to get revenge by catfishing Annalise and creating an online persona that Annalise could never reject. Noelle is pressured into the ruse by her friends and is left to control the operation. She doesn’t exactly despise Annalise as much as her other friends do, but Noelle believes that this perfect virtual boyfriend will keep Annalise from hooking up with her long time crush, Cooper Franklin. The results of this scheme backfire on all the characters involved when Annalise realizes that her fake boyfriend isn’t the only artificial thing in her life.
I loved this story! Annalise is the kind of protagonist that any reader could relate to and support. She’s real to the core and isn’t even aware of Noelle’s crush on Cooper until she sees him rushing to her aid after she experiences an anxiety attack. Annalise, while naïve at some points in the novel, handled the entire scam pretty darn well. There have been dozens of cases where girls have committed suicide or suffered severe depression over catfishing/cyberbullying schemes. Even though Annalise is insecure about her body to the point of considering surgery, she still manages to not internalize the situation when she uncovers the truth. Instead, she decides to tackle the trio of friends head-on. She uses social media to destroy Tori’s online beauty competition, she accepts Cooper’s offer for a date and she channels all her anger and pain into a heartfelt letter that she leaves for Noelle. Sure, these actions are sort of childish, but Annalise manages to shake the immaturity when she makes Noelle an offer that she simply can’t refuse.
Other than well-developed characters and plot, “Identity Crisis” throws in some life lessons that would help anyone who has been or is being cyber bullied and who has been a victim of peer pressure. While Noelle is a girl who has her own opinions and values, she is easily manipulated by Tori and Eva. However, closer to the end of the novel, Noelle grows a pair. She takes her mother’s advice and is able to stand up to her other friends after she witnesses her father battling and overcoming his own kind of peer pressure. Also, after the truth is revealed, Noelle finds out that there’s a hefty price to pay for catfishing someone. Readers can also learn valuable lessons from Annalise and how she handled the entire situation. Annalise’s close friend, Maeve, tells her about the signs of catfishing and how to avoid them. Annalise also shows character and maturity in the way that she dealt with Noelle.
Overall, “Identity Crisis” is a novel that teaches readers the dangers of catfishing, the importance of being an individual and not succumbing to peer pressure and how to deal with bullies. Considering the era we live in, it’s a book that is more than relevant.
Publisher: Merit Press (January 1, 2016)
Length: 240 pages
Genre: YA Fiction
Completed: April 2016