Wendy's Reviews > Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities

Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris  Barton
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's review
Oct 19, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011-award-possibilities
Read in October, 2011

I was disappointed in this. As a kid I loved to read books about "true stories of dramatic escapes", stuff like that. But there are several things about this book that feel off. The second-person "you are there" narration seemed clever and intriguing at first, but by the third or so story, it was wearying. It's one thing to imagine yourself as a teenager running a subway train on a lark, or pretending to be a boy so you can fight for the Union Army; it's something else altogether when you're asked to imagine yourself as a narcissist and criminal pretending to be a doctor and endangering lives. Several of the people here are petty criminals, and they're presented in basically the same tone as the heroes. Not all of the stories were particularly compelling (or written compellingly?). The slice of Frank Abagnale's life that was chosen here was a pretty dull one, considering the slices that could have been chosen--maybe because the author wanted to choose something from his youth, which I can understand, but it still didn't really work for me.

Certainly the most compelling (and probably most detailed) story was that of the Jewish teenager pretending to be a Nazi soldier and then a member of the Hitler Youth. (Apparently this is a famous story; I haven't read EUROPA, EUROPA.) But one scene there left a bad taste in my mouth that stuck around for the rest of the book. What seems like an attempted rape of the protagonist is referred to, but the older soldier is referred to only as a homosexual, not an attempted rapist; there's no hint of what he did as being wrong or being at all separate from homosexuality. Perhaps this is how the protagonist spoke of the incident and the older man later. And I get that this is a tricky thing to work into the text. But it read to me (I am certain the author didn't intend this) as a conflation of homosexuality with rape, and what some might even read as pedophilia. It is a small incident and I am sensitive to these things, but I'm curious about how it would read to a kid. (I suspect they might not even understand what's happening, because it's sketched so vaguely. I doubt I would have understood about circumcision, which is the plot point here and mentioned a couple of other places in this chapter, at the age when I would have read this book.)
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message 1: by Kathleen (new)


message 2: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Also, Europa, Europa is one of my favorite movies, but I haven't read the book. And I'm apparently incapable of putting all my thoughts in one comment today.

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