The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton

I hate identity-fraud stories. A $2 charge at a gas station, then a bunch of online purchases? And your credit-card company, which covered the charges, won’t give you any information about the case? No need! I can conjure images of a bored Russian sitting at a crappy computer café, trying hundreds of credit-card numbers he bought for $5 apiece on the Dark Web. There’s a reason the only attempt at an identity-theft movie starred Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman and you still didn’t see it. (I saw it and liked it.)

Luckily, The Less People Know About Us is not really an identity-fraud story. Sure, the author, Axton Betz-Hamilton, is an assistant professor at South Dakota State University who studies identity theft. And, sure, she and her parents had their financial lives ruined by identity theft. But this is actually a story of a miserable childhood. Of an insulated life in 1990s rural Indiana. Of a woman, Axton’s mom, who is so unpredictable, unconventional, and unknowable that I want Melissa McCarthy to give an identity-fraud movie another chance.