THE COPYCAT is a beautifully written story about a girl deciding whether or not to be authentic to herself. I loved the strange magical element of Ali and her father being able to shape shift. While the story does present some history and theories as to why they can change, it doesn't focus too much on the logistics. MacKnight layers the magic in a way that feels natural and even usual in Ali's life, a significant feat in a book that is largely grounded in contemporary, realistic life. There is a well-executed balance of Ali understanding the magnitude of what Copycat powers can do if used for greed or self-interest without going so far down into the morality of great power that you forget the primary focuses of the book: family and being true to yourself.
Ali is a relatable protagonist. It's easy to imagine how badly you might want to fit in when you've moved around so much and just want to avoid being bullied or ostracized. Ali is often lonely in all the new places, so when she does start to make friends at Saint John, it takes her a while to realize that pretending to be something you aren't isn't the best foundation for true friendships. I adored the secondary characters like Cassie and Emily and Ali's journey in both getting to know them and eventually letting them know the real her, the one who doesn't agree to whatever they say.
Middle grade readers who like their fiction realistic but don't mind a touch of magic will find a new favorite in THE COPYCAT, complete with a heartwarming cast of characters, themes of friendship and family, and more.