The Pop Princess and the Pauper
My Double Life by Janette Rallison
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 13, 2010
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
A self-described “half-Latina” from a small-town, working-class family, Alexia Garcia is a dead ringer for twenty-something pop sensation, Kari Kingsley, who is also half-Latina. The amazing resemblance leads to a lucrative job offer to serve as the secret double for Kari at some of her public appearances so Kari can focus on completing an overdue album. Alexia’s mom is strongly against the masquerade because, as she confesses for the first time in Alexia’s 18 years, Alexia and Kari share the same father. He’s pop legend, Alex Kingsley, the lead singer of The Journey Men–a fact that both Alex and Kari have been kept in the dark about as well. Alexia is furious at her mother for hiding this crucial information from her, knowing how much all her life Alexia has wanted to know about her father. Since Alexia is legally of age and doesn’t need her mother’s permission, she takes the job Kari’s publicist is offering and heads for Los Angeles.
In adult romance novels, there is a classic story line called the “secret baby plot,” in which the heroine had a baby years before that the hero never knew about. This is the first time I’ve ever personally heard of a novel where the “secret baby” is the heroine. What a great twist!
I am a huge fan of Janette Rallison and have read every one of her young adult novels. I must confess I was a bit disappointed initially on realizing that, other than a couple of scenes of comic relief, this story is light drama, not her usual laugh-out-loud comedy. But I quickly got into the book because, no matter what type of story she chooses to tell, Rallison is a great writer. All of the things I normally enjoy in a Rallison YA novel are here in spades: vividly three-dimensional characters, strong conflict, and compelling love stories, both familial and romantic.
Alexia is a dynamic and compassionate heroine, and her efforts to get to know her half-sister are emotionally moving. The complications created by Alexia’s pretending to be her sister are both painful for Alexia and occasionally very funny for the reader. I particularly enjoyed Alexia’s romance with teen heartthrob Grant. It is extremely well done, and I really liked Grant, who is not just gorgeous and sexy, but a thoroughly decent guy. One of Rallison’s strengths has always been her ability to write a good romance plot, and as usual, she shines at that here.
Perhaps most moving of all is the growth in Alexia’s relationship with her mother and the eventual outcome in Alexia’s quest to know her father. The resolution of that portion of the book brought tears to my eyes. It was also a nice change to be able to experience YA-novel parents as caring nurturers. And not only that, but as deserving of a chance at achieving romantic happiness as well.
Drama Plot: 5
Romantic Subplot: 5