Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris Barton

After waiting awhile for Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris Barton, published by Dial Books, and then waiting for my library to prep it to be checked out, I was stoked to see it ready for me today. I also finished reading it today. It's a quick read, only 121 pages including the acknowledgements. I liked it a lot, so 121 pages went by too quickly for me.

Can I See Your I.D.? gives 10 "true stories of false identities," including the famous one of Frank Abagnale Jr. from the movie Catch Me If You Can. It has stories as recent as 15 years ago and from nearly 200 years ago. It includes men and women.

The most interesting and unique thing about this book is the perspective it's in. Instead of the usual first or third person, this book is written from the 2nd person, using "you." Barton tries to get you in the head of each of these people so you really feel what it's like to be this person and understand his or her motive. Some motives are survival while others are for thrill or a better life.

I liked the way the chapters were set up with the name and fake identity along with date, place, and illustrations about the deception and what's coming up in the chapter. At the end Barton would tell us what happened to the person in the end, possibly my favorite part of each chapter.

While learning a bit about 10 people in our history who you may never have heard of, you're also learning about yourself. What would it take for you to take on a new identity? What IS your identity now? Barton himself realizes that these are good questions to ask and think about, and he writes about this in the Afterword. He asks, "who do you think you are?" (113) and brings more to this book than just a unique perspective and information about these identities. I think his goal is to have the reader put his/herself in the shoes of these people and really think about how he/she would have reacted in each situation. At the end of the Afterword he says that each person had a reason to be someone else and asks, "Can you imagine what yours would be?" (118).

I think this would be a good book for reluctant readers, especially boys, because it talks about fear and stress and the adrenaline of pretending to be someone else but in short chunks and an overall short book.

You can find a discussion guide for Can I See Your I.D.? here: Discussion Guide and his homepage here: Homepage. Chris Barton also wrote Shark vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers. Both are excellent books I would suggest checking out. You can follow him on Twitter @Bartography.

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