Double Identity (novel)

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Double Identity
Double Identity (novel) coverart.jpg
Author Margaret Peterson Haddix
Country United States
Language English
Genre science fiction
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date
August 2005
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 218 (Paperback and hard cover)
ISBN ISBN 978-1-4177-7265-0

Double Identity is a 2005 young adult novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix. ages 10–14


Bethany Cole lives a normal life until her parents, Walter and Hillary, abruptly take her to Sanderfield, Illinois, where she is introduced to her aunt, Myrlie Wilkers, whom Bethany has never met. Bethany overhears her father telling Myrlie that Bethany does not know anything about Elizabeth. She soon realizes her parents are abandoning her without an explanation, but she begrudgingly settles in.

As she lives with Myrlie, her aunt unwittingly is able to guess all of Bethany's favourite foods. Bethany's interest in Elizabeth is sparked when one of Myrlie's friends mistake Bethany for Elizabeth. Though Myrlie has promised Walter not to tell Bethany about Elizabeth, her aunt reveals that Elizabeth was Bethany's sister, who died in a car accident before Bethany was born. Hillary had been driving the car and Myrlie's husband and Elizabeth died in the crash, though Hillary and Myrlie's daughter Joss survived. Joss, who had been Elizabeth's best friend, initially mistakes Bethany for Elizabeth, noting that their exact resemblance. After seeing some home videos of Elizabeth and Joss as children, Bethany confirms that she and Elizabeth are identical, save a small scar under Elizabeth's left eye.

Myrlie receives a package with four forged birth certificates from different states and ten thousand dollars cash. A note accompanying it explains Walter and Hillary's reasons for leaving Bethany with Myrlie. Soon afterward, Hillary calls, asking for Elizabeth; when Bethany tries to reassure her mother, Hillary, believing she is talking to Elizabeth, tells her daughter that they can clone her if they manage to save some of her cells. Bethany realizes that she is Elizabeth's clone, explaining why Myrlie knew what foods she would like and why they look exactly the same. Her parents even raised her in a similar environment with the same toys to try to replicate their first daughter.

Over the next few days, Bethany encounters a mysterious man, who seems to know who she is, though Joss's arrival drives the man away. The man, identifying himself as "Dalton", appears at Myrlie's house to find Walter and Bethany begins to notice a strange car driving by the house several times.

A few days later, Joss, Myrlie, and Bethany later go to the Harvest Festival, where they see Bethany's parents and Dalton. It is revealed that Dalton Van Dyne gave Bethany's father money to create a clone of himself because he felt a clone would be the only person who would love him. Instead of creating that clone, Walter created a clone of Elizabeth, believing that while Van Dyne would have another chance, Elizabeth wouldn't have one. When Bethany realizes this, she tells him, but the entire town hears it as well.

In the epilogue, Bethany is thirteen and living in Sanderfield. She explains to the reader that her parents made four embryos cloned from Elizabeth and implanted three of them into three surrogates and one into Hillary. The babies of the surrogates died very soon after birth, but Bethany, her mother's baby, survived. The book ends with the family planting a ginkgo in honor of Bethany next to the trees that were planted for Elizabeth and Joss.


  • Bethany Cole - The protagonist of the novel, Bethany is 12 years old at the beginning of the novel. She has hazel eyes and blonde hair. She is Elizabeth's younger sister and clone, and the daughter of Walter and Hillary. She is an amazing swimmer, and wears glasses. Last name changed from Krull to Cole, to help conceal her identity from the antagonist, Dalton Van Dyne. When her parents leave her at Myrlie's home, she learns about Elizabeth's existence and eventually deduces that she is her clone.
  • Myrlie Wilker - Myrlie is Bethany's maternal aunt and Joss's mother. Bethany is left at her house at the beginning of the novel Bethany's father. Her husband was also killed in the car accident that killed Elizabeth Krull.
  • Jocelyn Wilker - Better known as Joss, she is Bethany's cousin and Myrlie's daughter. She was Elizabeth's best friend and cousin and did gymnastics with her. She studied both biology and theology and is a female minister.
  • Walter Krull - Walter is Bethany's father. Throughout the novel, he goes by "Walter Cole." He was paid to create a clone of Dalton Van Dyne, but when Van Dyne was jailed, he used the money to clone his deceased daughter, Elizabeth.
  • Hillary Krull - Hillary is Bethany's mother. Throughout the novel, she goes by "Hillary Cole." She seems unbalanced and calls Bethany at random intervals while Bethany is at Myrlie's. During these calls, she has a habit of thinking that Bethany is Elizabeth. Hillary feels guilty for the deaths of Elizabeth and Myrlie's husband because she was driving the car when it crashed.
  • Elizabeth Krull - Elizabeth Krull was the daughter of Walter and Hillary. She is Bethany's older sister and died in a car accident on her 13th birthday along with her Aunt Myrlie's husband. She was an amazing gymnast, and wanted to go to the Olympics with her cousin Joss. She also hated swimming. When her parents signed her up for swimming lessons she refused to even dip a toe in the water because when she was 3 she almost drowned when Hillary and Walter took her to a public pool. She is different from Bethany because she is more confident and louder. She looks exactly like Bethany except for a small scar under her left eye.