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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack

Today, I’m officially a little freaked out. I’ve talked before about Josi Kilpack’s tendency to fearlessly tackle some of life’s toughest “issues” in her writing. Now, she’s done it again. This time it’s about identity theft and I must admit that Her Good Name has done more to get my attention about the whole issue than all the other news articles and information sheets have.

If you have now begun rolling your eyes and saying, “Yeah, yeah, identity theft. I’ve heard it all.” I’d recommend giving the fictional approach of Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack a try. You might find it refreshing. It might become a little more meaningful to spend a little time vicariously living the life of someone who is experiencing the stress and pain of a very realistic scenario.

Here’s what I was pleased to find: aside from subtly teaching me the ins and outs of protecting myself financially, it was a really good story! Her Good Name kept me turning pages even when I shouldn’t be reading at all, and definitely kept me absorbed way longer than any other information about identity theft that I’ve tried to wrap my head around. Yes, I wanted to kick Chrissy, the main character, for being so stubborn toward the end and getting herself into even more trouble. But hey, that’s what becoming involved in a story is supposed to do to you.

I am of two minds, however, on one point: I can’t decide if I liked knowing what the thief was actually doing under Chrissy’s name or not. The story follows each of the characters, good and bad, chronologically. You know that Chrissy’s identity has been stolen long before she does, but you also know exactly how it’s being used the entire time you’re following Chrissy’s traumatic adventure. Part of me liked being able to get into the other person’s head, but part of me would have liked to stay in the dark about what was happening to her money until Chrissy began to figure it out. Hmmm. That one you’ll have to judge for yourself.

I do have to say that giving us an in-depth look into the bad guy’s life is part of Josi’s M.O. She does the same thing with the 2007 Whitney Award winner Sheep’s Clothing, her book on internet safety and child abduction. I think that she has a very good reason for it. One of the biggest purposes Josi has with her books really does have to do with helping her readers understand real-life situations and dangers. You can’t always do that if you have no idea how the guy trying to steal your child, or your identity, thinks. Though many, many people really liked Sheep’s Clothing, I had trouble getting through it. (See, I really am peculiar) Because Josi did want us to understand the personalities and thoughts of these people so we could understand their tactics in real life, the characters felt awkward to me— almost too cliché. I can overlook my own weird response however, because the scenario itself does ring true. It is still a powerful story for what it can teach any parent or child about internet predators.

I’m happy to say that I didn’t have the same weird problem with Her Good Name. I love Chrissy’s personality and definition. She is vibrant and full of life, someone I’d really like to know, not just observe in the pages of a book. All the characters felt more real to me personally. I think Josi’s awesome talent truly shines with Her Good Name. I would not be surprised at all to see Her Good Name become a 2008 Whitney Award finalist, so watch for it to see if I’m right.

Because it is so important to Josi that her readers walk away from her books with more than just entertainment, you’ll also find a few pages of information and suggestions at the end of Her Good Name on how to get started protecting yourself a little better.

I certainly wouldn’t like to see anyone go through this, but it is very eye opening to walk in Chrissy’s heels for a while. Read the book, then go change your passwords!

You can get a closer look at Her Good Name on Josi's website as well.

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1 comment:

Jaime Theler said...

Nice review, Alison. I already knew I wanted to read it, but now I want to more.