Book Review: The Fake

THE FAKE | Zoe Whittall
03.21.2023 | Ballantine Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


A con artist can make you feel like the luckiest person on earth just to be in their presence. But when the jig is up, they ghost, and you’re left wondering if you ever mattered

After the death of her wife, Shelby feels more alone than ever—until she meets Cammie, a charismatic woman unafraid of what anyone else thinks and whose own history of trauma draws Shelby close. When Cammie is fired from her job and admits she is in treatment for kidney cancer, Shelby devotes all her time to helping Cammie thrive. But Shelby’s intuition tells her there are things about Cammie’s past that don’t add up. Could the realest thing about Cammie be that she’s actually a scammer?

Gibson is almost forty, fresh from a divorce and deeply depressed. Then he meets and falls in love with Cammie. Suddenly, he’s having the best sex of his life with a woman so attractive he’s stunned she even glanced his way, and for the first time ever he feels truly known. This is the kind of desire and passion that musicians have been writing love songs about for centuries. But Gibson’s friends are wary of Cammie, and eventually he too has to admit that Cammie’s dramatic life can feel a bit over the top.

When Shelby and Gibson find out Cammie is a pathological liar, they struggle to understand what they really want from her—sometimes they want to help her heal from whatever causes her to invent reality, and sometimes they want revenge. But the biggest question of all is: how honest can Shelby and Gibson be about their own characters?

The Fake may come in at just under 200 pages, but this small book packs a great punch. From the start you know drama is coming and Whittall delivers it in spades! 

The three main characters, Cammie, Shelby, and Gibson, are truly the shining stars of this book. Whittall smartly alternates POVs between the characters with most of the content coming from Shelby and Gibson, our victims. My favorite parts were definitely the brief glimpses into Cammie’s mind. 

I loved knowing walking in that this was a story of a con artist and yet feeling myself feel bad for this woman who I knew was taking advantage of others. Each character felt incredibly real and their reactions were true to the characters that Whittall built. The emotions in this book were so raw and real that it almost felt like a true story at times, which made me love it even more. 

If you’re looking for a quick read that will have you saying WTF to yourself more than once, then this is the book for you!

A huge thank you to Random House for my gifted copy!

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