Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Stranger with My Face

Rate this book
Laurie was at home, but her boyfriend swears he saw her on the beach with another guy. Her family insists they see her coming and going when she's been out of the house for hours. Who--or what--is taking over Laurie's life?

235 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1981

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lois Duncan

85 books1,800 followers
Lois Duncan (born Lois Duncan Steinmetz) was an American writer and novelist, known primarily for her books for children and young adults, in particular (and some times controversially considering her young readership) crime thrillers. Duncan's parents were the noted magazine photographers Lois Steinmetz and Joseph Janney Steinmetz. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Sarasota, Florida. Duncan started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at the age of ten, and when she was thirteen succeeded in selling her first story.

Duncan attended Duke University from 1952 to 1953 but dropped out, married, and started a family. During this time, she continued to write and publish magazine articles; over the course of her career, she has published more than 300 articles, in magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, McCall's, Good Housekeeping, and Reader's Digest. After her first marriage, which produced three children, ended in divorce, Duncan moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, where she also earned a BA in English in 1977. In 1965 she married Don Arquette, and had two more children with him.

Duncan was best known for her novels of suspense for teenagers. Some of her works have been adapted for the screen, the most famous example being the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer, adapted from her novel of the same title. Other made-for-TV movies include Stranger with My Face, Killing Mr. Griffin, Don't Look Behind You, Summer of Fear and Gallows Hill.

In 1989 the youngest of Duncan's children, Kaitlyn Arquette, was murdered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under suspicious circumstances. Who Killed My Daughter? relates the facts and conjecture about the still unsolved case.

Duncan's second book about her daughter's murder, ONE TO THE WOLVES: ON THE TRAIL OF A KILLER, picks up where the first book leaves off and contains all the new information Kait's family has uncovered from private investigation.

The 1971 children's book Hotel for Dogs was released as a theatrical movie in 2009, starring Emma Roberts. That book has now been republished by Scholastic along with two sequels, News for Dogs (2009) and Movie for Dogs (2010).

Duncan's Gothic suspense novel, DOWN A DARK HALL, is being filmed for the Big Screen and will probably be released in 2016.

Follow Lois on Twitter: http://twitter.com/duncanauthor

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,907 (30%)
4 stars
3,381 (35%)
3 stars
2,566 (27%)
2 stars
481 (5%)
1 star
107 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 638 reviews
Profile Image for Amber.
23 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2008
I read every one of these books I could find in the library in elementary school and junior high. Trashy yet enthralling. I associate them with the period of time I was convinced I could have superpowers if only I tried hard enough. I really really wanted paranormal powers-- particularly telekinesis. If it could happen to the girls in these books.. why not me?
Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,322 followers
August 11, 2018
As ‘Teen Creeps Podcast’ are covering this book, I wanted to read it before the latest episode was released.
This is my first Lois Duncan novel, though I know they covered some of her other books. I’m slowly working through the back catalogue!

Laurie’s friends and family keep telling her that they have seen her in places where she can’t have been, as Laurie was ill in bed. So how is this mysterious stranger?
I really liked the set up to the story, it’s a great mystery that instantly hooked me in.
I was slightly disappointed when it was revealed early on the stranger is Laurie’s twin and that they had both been adopted.
I was really enjoying that element of the story.

Laurie is then introduced to astral projection and the story takes a great creepy turn.
I really had fun reading this, the narrative flowed quickly and I enjoyed Duncan’s style of writing.
I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.
Profile Image for Imogen.
Author 6 books1,278 followers
August 19, 2010
OH MAN it crushes my poor cold heart to sand to have to tell you this, because I used to borrow this book from the library over and over and over when I was in fifth grade and it's one of the things that really made me like books so goddam much, but it's just all about like "Native American people are mysterious and magical," which is not an okay theme. So sad! I was so stoked when I found it in a little used bookstore in Kokomo Indiana, because when I was little I think I just thought Laurie Stratton was so grown up- she called her siblings "the children" and her mother "Mother," and had a boyfriend, and learned to astrally project herself long distances- but man, what a downer, to be like "I can do magic shit because I'm secretly a Navajo alien or something." Um, spoiler.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews271 followers
June 26, 2019
“Life continues, and we all of us keep changing and building, toward what we cannot know.”
― Lois Duncan, Stranger with My Face

My 2nd favorite of hers second only to Daughters of Eve.

This book is genuinely scary and has remained so. Did a reread recently and I thin k it got scarier!


Can you imagine looking into the mirror..and your mirror image is not smiling while you are? Man..now THAT is the kind of scare I like. No blood. No gore. Just creepy scary.

Plus it is just an awesome story with awesome characters. Did anyone reading this really not fall in love with Jeff? Cmon, of coarse you did!

And I also wanted Helen for a friend. That was my only quibble. I really wanted to know how her story ended.

I love the New England island feel, the ocean, the rocks and the waves. Everything about it was perfect.

Highly recommended to YA mystery lovers who prefer great story telling to gore, blood, and Freddy Kruger.
Profile Image for HeavyReader.
2,247 reviews14 followers
December 20, 2008
I read this book years and years ago. In fact, I wasn't sure I had actually read it until I saw the summary of it in Bitch magazine.

It's a really creepy premise. A teenage girl is doing astral projection and while she's out of her body, the sister she didn't know she had slips her spirit into the vacated body. Well, something like that happens. I may have the details wrong about who the girl who slips into the body is. In any case, the protagonist is floating around in spirit, watching some other spirit propelling her body around. Of course, everyone thinks the protagonist's body is inhabited by the protagonist's spirit, and there's not much she can do to correct the mistake.

Kept me too scared to try astral projection during the time I thought it was maybe possible.
20 reviews
February 6, 2008
I haven't read this book in a very long time. But I first discovered it when I was probably 10-years-old and I just kept taking it out of the library! I knew exactly where it was, what shelf it was on and it was ALWAYS there waiting for me. The librarians used to look at me and say, "Well there you go again Paula." This was my first introduction to science fiction (at least in book form) and it was awesome! What if your friends suddenly started acting strange and told you you did things that you don't remember? What if you started seeing strange things through your own eyes? This book is creepy, but a real page turner.
Profile Image for Amanda .
701 reviews13 followers
November 1, 2019
This wasn't my first Lois Duncan but it will probably be my last. Duncan's writing is dated and simplistic by today's YA standards. It just doesn't seem to cut it for more reasons than one.

The story was published in 1981 and it was very clear exactly where the author added updates. Not many teens would call a boyfriend's cell and then try calling the boyfriend's dad (many people no longer have landlines nor know the number of a friend's parent). Calling a parent Mother or younger siblings The Children, or having a writer father use a typewriter set this novel firmly in the past and leaves the reader with an odd disconnect as well as a reminder of how much technology has transformed everyone's daily lives.

The whole premise of the book, that new age astral projection is real and that it is somehow tied to Navajo beliefs is both laughable and an outdated and insensitive stereotype. The fact that Duncan claims to have experienced it herself occasionally in an author's interview at the end made me question her grasp on reality.

Duncan's stories seem on par with the ability of a middle school writer. I wouldn't recommend them for anyone above eighth grade.
Profile Image for sophia.
10 reviews
January 20, 2021
I think that this is a really good book to read. I think that it might need a little more context with the whole "spiritual realm" thing. I would enjoy the book more if it was more realistic instead of fantasy. That being said, I really thought that the book was good. Especially the ending. The "fight" type scenes are really interesting as well with one of the characters being a literal ghost, and switching between some sort of like intangible mode thing. idk. The book itself is really interesting :))
Profile Image for Kristin Hodge.
119 reviews3 followers
April 2, 2022
Okay so I wanted to read this because I thought I remembered reading it in highschool but after finishing it I can say, I don’t recall reading this before.

Very easy quick read, interesting and good, it introduced astral projection to me. I didn’t know that existed. And it was a captivating story! I really enjoyed a lot!

The only reason I don’t give it 5 stars is because I wasn’t absolutely blown out of the water by the story! It was great and quick paced, and a new original story, just not mind blowing. I just happened to go to the beach to camp and basically Could sit and read a lot!
Profile Image for Lena.
Author 7 books242 followers
August 9, 2011
I didn't know what to expect when I got this book from the library. I had heard of the author, but I'd never read anything by her.

Duncan does an amazing job creating suspense. It was SO HARD to put this book down every time I had to stop reading. It caught me and never let go--the pace is relentless. This should be required reading for suspense writers, because so many get it wrong. Duncan is a master.

That said, I didn't really care for the main character. I tried hard to like her, and succeeded only partially. I did have sympathy for her, but some of her decisions were just so stupid it made things harder. And I found parts of the book way too predictible for a suspense novel.

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. It was very well crafted. A little less foreshadowing would have made me like it more. Also, the whole thing with the boy with the damaged face really added interest to the story. I liked how the ending was good, but not all shiny happy, either.

Fun, interesting, absorbing read. Very exciting and suspenseful.
Profile Image for Janie Johnson.
890 reviews130 followers
January 15, 2015
This was a pretty good tale, and the first time for me to read anything from Lois Duncan. I have become intrigued with this Authors talent, and plan on reading more of her works in the future.

No the book did not blow me away, but it was still very well written. The story was very fluid and easy to read and follow. I was a bit confused at the ending and felt like I was left hanging a bit, like it seemed to be left open for a sequel, but I would have liked a little more closure though.

Our main character, Laurie, was probably the strongest and best developed in the book, I loved her determination and courage. Her parents were not likable at all for me though, They were so close minded throughout the entire story. I could not imagine not even listening to my kids when they were distressed about something. It was like they did not wanna deal with problems that were brought into the story, wanted to act like nothing was wrong at all.

I thought the premise of the book was great, loved the idea. I would liked to have seen a bit more work put into it though. I feel as though the story could be so much more than it was, kinda fell a little short. This could have easily been a 300 - 350 page novel. This book gets a 3.5 rating from me.
413 reviews123 followers
December 14, 2020
I read this book so long ago, but a conversation with a friend got me thinking about this book again, so I decided to do a reread.

Back when I read it, I remembered that parts of the book felt extraordinarily heavy so that I wanted to skim over parts of the book. Most of the book felt incomprehensible to me back then, and this time when I reread it, I realized that it read exactly like that to me now.

The problem, I found, was that the beginning of the book was filled with endless data dumping. The book itself is novel because of the subject matter and the horror aspect of the story, especially when writers like Christopher Pike and R.L.Stine were so popular, but for half of the book, it was mostly set up. The way it starts out is "My name is... I'm seventeen years old...I live..." which is exactly how most elementary school essays begin. It's hugely tedious and I'm surprised that no editor tried to get Duncan to rewrite it. Maybe none of that mattered, because this is supposedly one of her most popular books.

I will say that I hadn't forgotten the horror aspect of the story. Even decades later, I still recall that feeling of horror when Laurie floated out of her body and she couldn't go back because someone was already inside her body. Shudders. Everything exciting happens in the second part of the book, and it's a bit distressing how heavy the first part feels. I'm not even certain how the first part was supposed to read to make it better. Honestly, most books are the type that start out well and the end leaves you with the utmost feeling of mehness. It's very rare to find a book that shocks you to the core with its ending despite the blandness of the beginning.

One thing I do want to point out was the similarity of the romance aspect with Duncan's first book, Debutante Hill. Both of these books had the "bad boy" suddenly confessing to the main character completely out of the blue. Very Scooby-Doo-ish. If there had been more flashbacks of encounters between the two, I would have bought the feelings a bit more. As it was, I was awash with skepticism and the word OREALLY were probably flashing across my pupils. And while Debutante Hill dealt with that weird instacrush from the guy better (they ended up as friends and he said he wasn't giving up), here they supposedly got together and everything was wonderful.

Back in the day, I'll admit I was very giddy at these flashes of romance in books. They seemed tamer and much less...inflamed...than the YA books nowadays. And somehow that worked a lot better. I prefer it when the romance is a subplot, especially when the romance can be SO BADLY WRITTEN. Nowadays because the romance aspect is done with such a heavy hand I feel concussive after reading a YA novel, I'm much less giddy and rip it apart from all angles.

So I would say for this book: 1 star for execution, 5 stars for plot, 2 stars for the romance, 4 stars for the nostalgia for rereading and still getting shivers from this old, old book. A good 3 stars to balance it all out.
Profile Image for Michelle.
811 reviews73 followers
June 18, 2016
Here's another Lois Duncan book I read several times as a youngster. I remembered a few things from it and realized this book formed my love and desire to live:
On a sweet little island where I need to take a ferry every day to go to school and whatnot
With my house perilously perched on a cliff to take in the best sea views
Where I would write all day as a job on my typewriter, click-clacking away.

Sometimes I wonder what books are going to seriously shape my own kids' lives. (I guess you could say this didn't seriously shape my life since I am not on a tiny island, in my grand house of many windows, making a living as a writer...yet.)

Anyhoodle, I am now thirty-one, and I actually felt scared about how this book would turn out. Astralprojection adventures with your twin--who knew that could be so terrifying?
Profile Image for JenniferJ.
630 reviews80 followers
September 11, 2012
In one word - Freaky! I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this story! It was really scary in a neat way. I totally freaked when she was sitting in front of the mirror and her image smiled at her and she realized that she herself was NOT smiling! Ohhhh I love it when things like that happens in movies and it sent a chill over me while reading it here as well!

I despised Laurie's so called friends and boyfriend. I'm like all they had to do if they cared at all was ask her family if she had been home sick but instead they would rather doubt her. That's just not a friend to me which it more or less says she was only a member of their crowd on accounts of her popular boyfriend anyhow but still...

I was not overly excited about "part" of the ending but if I explain I will be spoiling it for anybody whose not read it so I will leave it at that.
Profile Image for Kat Williams.
44 reviews19 followers
March 18, 2015
I'm not going to waste my time reading this dated, often racist and size-ist, and altogether ludicrous teen novel. I bought it bored on a cold, empty winter day. We do crazy things when holed up in an ice cave for months on end. The purchase of this book is high on my list of wintry follies. Suffice to say I will never finish this. And now that spring is here I have no desire to have this sitting among my things, creating added clutter. Be off with you Stranger! I don't care about you nor your evil twin's face!
Profile Image for Christina.
545 reviews201 followers
April 19, 2020
Raise your hand if you spent months as a kid trying astral projection because of this book.

This is a seriously spooky book. As a kid, it terrified me, but was also one of those books I read over and over. Lous Duncan has a true gift for suspense writing. Her teen characters are always relatable and smart, and her ideas are so creative. Most importantly, she never fails to deliver an awesome ending, and this ending is one of her best. This ties with Daughters of Eve as my favorite Duncan book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jana.
67 reviews
November 19, 2022
It‘s fine, 3 stars.

At the beginning I found it a little dull and I almost dropped it again, what with all this relationship and clique drama. That must certainly have been the reason I never finished it back at school, too. This drama turns up every so often through the book and is a little annoying but after the first chapters it gets better and the story finally takes off in the second half of the book.

The idea was very interesting in my opinion, writing this horror book with this explanation of astral projection and making it less paranormal (kind of) and thus more realistic. Somewhere in the second half it really started to draw me in.

One thing that I found a little disappointing is how Helen didn’t have more screen time (page time?). I wished for her to make some kind of big comeback, maybe Laurie visiting her when she was locked out of her body and Helen suddenly seeing and remembering her and giving this important piece of information that finally helps Laurie get Lia out of her body.

In a way Helen did play that role I guess, since it was her gift that finally saved Laurie, but I would still have preferred a bigger role for her than just that, I wanted her to get well and remember.

I was also a little annoyed with Laurie‘s stupidity. Helen told her so many times how dangerous it was and to me as a reader it was pretty much from the beginning clear that Lia wanted to snatch her body but Laurie just didn’t listen.

Even after she already knew that her twin was evil, it took her an eternity to figure out that it had been her who lured Helen in the park and Jeff out onto the cliff. She noticed how weird it was for Lia to want her so desperately to learn astral projection but didn‘t think much about it, even after she knew what her sister was capable of.

And then—just after perceptive little Meg warning her too and Laurie promising to be careful—she goes and does exactly the opposite by not only immediately projecting herself again but doing so in the middle of the afternoon, disregarding the last tiny bit of safety measures she and Jeff had agreed upon. What the hell?

Well, that was the part about the stupid main character—a common problem in books and movies. Apart from these things I enjoyed the story, though, and at least part of it was exciting and well executed.

Probably won‘t reread—but who knows, maybe I will want to one day.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pam Tole.
101 reviews31 followers
July 22, 2011
Lois Duncan is a huge name in the literary world, who has written many, (many, many) books and received many (manymanymany) awards. I Know What You Did Last Summer may be her most recognizable. However, I can't remember reading any of her books growing up, but I recognized her name when I picked up this audio book in the library. My other reasons for checking this out were 1) We don't have a huge selection in our library and 2) It was earmarked as Supernatural. I'm not sure I would really recommend it, but it did win a ton of awards.

The story was published in 1981 and yes, the book is a bit dated. Not just because the father who is a writer uses a typewriter, but it just didn’t have a contemporary feel. However, the story holds up and the plot is fun. Although it is a bit predictable, I didn’t know everything that was going to happen and I do like how it was all resolved.

I didn’t really connect to any of the characters, I felt they were kind of stereotyped. The boyfriend who is Mr. Perfect and a tad arrogant, the bad boy who is sullen and most of Laurie's friends who happened to be in the popular crowd. Laurie is nice and perhaps a typical teenager. Her reaction to her parent's secret is understandable but her continuing anger had me a little annoyed.

It took me a while to get into the tone of voice of the narrator. At first I felt as if she was reading a bit too deliberately and it just sounded funny. But I did get used to it.

Some of the writing sounded odd to me. I’m sure it is correct and I’m not a Grammer expert, but she kept using sentences, like “We, both of us saw you.” “We, none of us…” or “We, all of us…” It just stuck out. I also thought it kind of odd that the main character Lori, who is 17, calls her younger siblings who are 8 and 11 “the children.” I don’t know, maybe it’s because that’s what her parents call them. Also, the issue of adoption is pretty dated. It kind of had me laughing.

I think this book would appeal more to middle grade students than young adults.
Profile Image for Nykia Burdine.
15 reviews
July 3, 2014
I haven't read this book since I was eleven or twelve years, and like most of the other people in these reviews, it was my absolute favorite book of my childhood. I'm pretty sure I read it about seven or eight times when I was in seventh grade. I was just so amazed by astral projection and Laurie's story in general. By the way, the Lifetime movie adaption was absolute crap, just like everything else on Lifetime. It did no justice to this beautiful book whatsoever. Just saying. Don't waste your time on it.

Anywho, since it's been so long since I've read this book, I'm going to order it offline and re-read it, just to see if I still feel the same way, and then I'll write a better review. Until then, I still give this book five stars.
Profile Image for Sheila Beaumont.
1,102 reviews144 followers
July 21, 2012
This is an excellent paranormal thriller, in which the 17-year-old heroine finds her life in danger of being taken over by a heretofore-unknown evil twin. Good writing, plenty of suspense, a haunting atmosphere, and well-portrayed characters make for a riveting read for both teens and adults. I definitely want to read more of Lois Duncan's novels (and reread those I've read before).
Profile Image for Andrew.
96 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2017
I really enjoyed the premise of the novel. It has some elements that will certainly hold a reader's interest: astral projection, evil twins, disfigured boyfriends, and the like. It's a fun little read, if you're looking for a short book to pass the time.
Profile Image for Nicole Collins.
282 reviews44 followers
October 28, 2017
I read this in eighth grade over 20 years ago and loved it then just realized the author died last year rip your books were everything to me as a teen and helps remind me of why ive always loved reading!!
Profile Image for N.N. Heaven.
Author 6 books1,827 followers
June 11, 2018
I read this years ago and loved the suspense. I just re-read it again and in the exact same places, I shivered. A tad predictable and the story drags a bit. A gripping mystery that'll keep you guessing until the very end.

My Rating: 4 stars
Profile Image for Knobby.
529 reviews27 followers
March 19, 2019
Another Lois Duncan from my past...

Like The Third Eye, Stranger With My Face was one of those books I read as a teen. It's suspenseful without thrill, and scary without gore — perfect for me! Laurie lives on Brighton Island in New England with her family, and has a generally normal life. When her boyfriend claims he sees Laurie standing on the beach when she was actually at home with the stomach flu, Laurie is perplexed. More and more of her classmates see "Laurie," and even her little sister Meg sees Laurie's "ghosty." Everyone who tries to protect Laurie from the mirror girl falls into danger, and Laurie herself is threatened by her double. Who is this girl and what does she want?

Even though I read this years ago, I still remember tons of details and enjoyed revisiting it. Lois Duncan is a master at subtle creepiness that stays with you. The scenes where Laurie brushes her hair while looking into a reflection, and then realizing later that her mirror had been smiling but she had not, was a mental image that stuck with me. The description of Laurie learning how to project from her body, too, remained with me for a long time.

While Duncan was a master at pacing and having her characters experience confusion or fear, she can't write love worth shit. In The Third Eye, the MC falls for someone in days — might be understandable, given that they were thrust into stressful situations together multiple times. Like Keanu and Sandy in SPEED, sometimes heightened emotions from stress can bring about some kind of lust. But Laurie is as lustful towards her love interest as a wet noodle. I wish her characters could just have strong platonic friendships with guys instead. Ah well. Product of the times.

Though the book was updated for newer audiences (the original story was written in the early 1980s), the idea of isolation and spotty cell service makes sense on the tiny Brighton Island where Laurie and her family live. I'm glad that Duncan didn't try to shoehorn Google into the conversation; Laurie reading rare books about astral projection seemed believable enough to me even now.

Jenny Han (of To All the Boys I've Loved Before) interviews Lois Duncan in the updated version of this book, which I liked. I'm kind of curious who all interviewed Duncan in all of the other updated books of hers. It seems like the who's who of the YA world are involved in the book updates.
Profile Image for Vicki.
2,205 reviews85 followers
September 10, 2021
This book was interesting and different, but a bit strange at the same time. Laurie Stratton is a 17 year old girl who lives on Brighton Island with her two siblings, and her mother and father. Things turn very strange when her boyfriend, Gordon, gets upset and thinks she's lying to him about maybe seeing someone else because he believes he saw her one night when she had told him she was ill but he swears up and down that he saw her. Well, he's not the only one who saw her in places she wasn't so the only logical explanation is she must have a twin, only she doesn't, so she asks her mother if she was adopted and from there the story of Laurie and her twin Liam becomes a world of very strange things.

I'm glad I read this book but it was just all right for me. I think it's one book that everyone should read because it's stood the test of time as it was first published in 1981 and it received several book awards, so I recommend it based on those reasons.
Profile Image for Sophia.
47 reviews
November 23, 2019
I loved this book so intensely, it's so compelling and engaging. The suspense and pressure had me yelling out loud at several points. It's been a while since I've made a habit of reading for fun, and this was the perfect book to get back into it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 638 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.