Candi Tavris is 29, single, a little overweight, a lot in debt, and definitely overqualified for her soon-to-be-eliminated routine clerical job. Her financial worries and her single status have cut her off from her friends and her interactions have become increasingly limited to social media.
But Candi refuses to believe that she can be defined by her current disheartening circumstances and she is searching for ways to believe in herself and her abilities. When a fan message to her favorite rock star leads to a passionate correspondence, she feels she has found something that had been missing from her life.
Unfortunately for Candi, her correspondence is not with her idol, Blast, but with a minor employee in Blast’s home office. Ethan Penn is 22, also bored and dissatisfied with life. He began the email exchanges as part of his miscellaneous job responsibilities for the rock star but as Candi opens herself to him, it quickly become the overriding passion of his life.
Blast, of course, is for a long time ignorant of the electronic relationship being conducted in his name. When it is exposed, he feels exposed, too—made vulnerable by his media prominence, he is frightened to discover that a stranger could believe she had forged a connection with him with no knowledge or encouragement on his part.
Identity Theft explores the question of identity from many angles. Most obviously, it shows that the screen of electronic communication makes it frighteningly easy for one individual to impersonate another. But what about the disparity between the potential a bright young woman sees in herself and the identity stamped upon her by debt and a dead-end job? Or the struggle of not living up to societal or family expectations of the identity she “ought” to take on in life? What is the true identity of a young man who finds a sense of direction from a relationship he has formed with a woman who, quite literally, does not know he exists? Or a rock star who feels the inconsistency between the on-stage performer and the shy, newly-divorced man who lives behind the mask?
Fast-moving and humorous, the novel’s light style and wry commentary belies its serious premise: technology, pop culture, and bleak career options combine to raise fundamental questions about identity and the individual that cover all strata of 21st Century society.
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