Review: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again.

Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle.

But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.


Pretending to be Erica  has been one of my most anticipated books of 2015. However, when the reviews started to post they weren’t too great, so I tried to go into it with some caution. While I didn’t hate it or anything, it definitely still left me disappointed.

I thought this book was going to be a lot more Heist-y than it was. I wanted that and lots of psychological games between Violet and all the people she’s trying to fool. The premise started out good. Sal, a master con man, adopted Violet out of foster care at a young age and taught her how to be a con man, too. Their end goal is to position her as the missing Erica Silverman, going so far as to get plastic surgery, to steal a priceless painting. However, Violet as Erica just left me a little disappointed.

Violet is supposed to have become Erica, but obviously she’s still herself. Violet is very different than who Erica is supposed to be and throughout the book her every reaction is told in twofold. It’s all,  “Erica responds this way while Violet responds this way”. It got old pretty fast and it also reminded me a lot of the whole “inner goddess” thing used in the 50 Shades books (which is the farthest thing from a compliment that I could give). Instead of psychological games, we spend a good deal of time with Erica’s inner monologue about how guilty she feels and what an unfortunate childhood she had.

I liked the supporting cast of characters. Not because they were particularly likable individually, but they were a diverse bunch and all brought different sides of Violet out. The romance was cute and it was firmly a subplot and didn’t take over the story, which I appreciated.

Overall, Pretending to be Erica was just ok for me. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be at all, which was disappointing, but for what it was, it wasn’t too bad. While the ending isn’t without consequences, which I liked, it was pretty open ended, which I didn’t really appreciate. While I don’t think this book is for everyone, I think readers who are into characters who spend most of their time in introspection would probably like it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars
3 stars

6 thoughts on “Review: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

  1. Stephanie, I just hate when a book I’ve been looking forward to reading, doesn’t live up to my expectations. I recently read one that I couldn’t finish even though I stuck with it half way through. Thank goodness, there are many, many fantastic books available.

  2. Pingback: August 2015 Recap | Stephanie's Book Reviews

  3. Pingback: 2015 End of Year Book Survey | Stephanie's Book Reviews

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