Book Review: Genuine Fraud
“Do you think a person is as bad as her worst actions?”
E. Lockhart’s hotly anticipated YA book, Genuine Fraud, explores the depths and complexities of female friendship, the struggle with knowing your own identity, and the stories we tell ourselves to justify our actions. It is a retelling of the classic 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley and asks, “what are people capable of?”
Genuine Fraud is the story of Jule and Imogen. Jule is a strong fighter who imagines herself as a heroine fighting evil in the narrative of her life (sometimes the violence Lockhart describes in relation to Jule is quite graphic). Imogen is charismatic New Yorker and the recipient of a large inheritance from her adoptive parents.
At the start of the book, Jule is hiding out as Imogen somewhere in Mexico. As the story unfolds, you discover that Imogen had fled her New York life for the summer and escaped to Martha’s Vineyard with her boyfriend Forrest. An effusive girl, Imogen invited Jule to stay at the house, too, along with any other friends who happen to be passing through. Soon, we discover everything that happens that summer (and everything leading up to it).
Beginning at the end of the story, each chapter in Genuine Fraud goes backward in time over the course of a year. This structure is clever in building intrigue, but it is also slightly confusing. It definitely keeps readers on their toes and active participants in the story.
Both Jule and Imogen are strong females, whether it’s physically or emotionally. Both are also deeply flawed, broken, and, ultimately, hard to like. Conjuring them to life is an interesting process when the timeline is in reverse. It makes you rethink them and your opinion of them after each chapter.
In the end, Genuine Fraud is a quick and twisty story with sometimes unpleasant yet fascinating characters.