"A joyful thing to behold. Set in Victorian England, this mystery gleefully overturns sexist norms and celebrates independent women of intellect, with Myrtle Hardcastle leading the charge."
—Booklist, starred review
In 10 impeccably crafted profiles, Barton (The Day-Glo Brothers) shares the stories of individuals—many just teenagers—who adopted false identities for amusement, profit, or survival. From Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Civil War, to 16-year-old Keron Thomas, who in 1993 impersonated a transit worker to fulfill his dream of piloting a New York City subway train, Barton reveals the motivations behind and the consequences of each deception.
"The use of second-person narration is very effective, allowing readers to assume the identities of each individual. Barton's prose captures the daring, ingenuity, and quick thinking required of each imposter ("You can bluster and grumble with the best of them.... You use up your share of tobacco too," he writes of Wakeman).
"In the most powerful stories, assuming a false identity was a life or death decision, as with Soloman Perel, a Jewish teenager who joined the Hitler Youth to escape being killed, and Ellen Craft, a slave who disguised herself as a white Southern gentleman to escape to the North. [Illustrator Paul] Hoppe contributes dynamic comic book–style panel art.