A while back I read this book by Lisa McMann, Dead to You. (You might not want to continue reading if you want to read this book and not have the end spoiled for you!)
The story follows a boy named Ethan returning to a family from whom he was kidnapped years ago, and his struggle to fit in, especially since his brother doesn’t believe this is truly Ethan. After learning some stuff in biology class, the brother points out that the new “Ethan” has different ears than the Ethan from old photos. The family is still willing to believe that “Ethan” is their son, until the real Ethan’s body is found.
A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a new DVD at the library and put myself on hold for it immediately. “The Imposter” (2012) is a documentary about a family whose son Nicholas went missing about 3 years prior, who receive a call that their son has been found in Spain. Only this was not really their son.
I just finished watching “The Imposter” and some of the similarities to Dead to You are pretty amazing. A private detective looks at the new Nicholas’s ears and compares to photos and determines that this is not Nicholas. The family does not want to believe that this is not Nicholas. These two things made me wonder if Lisa McMann had heard of this story and based Dead to You on it. But I couldn’t find anything on her website or blog to tell…
“The Imposter,” like Dead to You, is from the point of view of the returned “son.” In “The Imposter,” however, we hear a very different story – not Ethan’s own conviction that he could have been kidnapped, but an adult con man’s ultimate con. He talks about pretending to be a vulnerable teenager on the streets in order to be taken to a safe home for homeless teens and get a meal and a bed, and how he continued lying in order to avoid being arrested. It was really quite amazing how he managed to con his way, to find this random missing persons case in Texas. How as a darker skinned, dark haired, dark eyed adult French man was able to convince an entire family that he was their fair-haired, fair-skinned, blue-eyed teenage American son. And even more amazing was how much the family wanted to believe that he was their son.
As they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”