Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 6th 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Verse Novel, YA
"Perfect on the outside, but behind the Normal Rockwell facades, each holds its secrets. Dark, untellable. Practically unbelievable." -- IDENTICAL Kaeleigh and Raeanne are 16-year-old identical twins, the daughters of a district court judge father and politician mother running for US Congress. Everything on the surface seems fine, but underneath run very deep and damaging secrets. What really happened when the girls were 7 years old in that car accident that Daddy caused? And why is Mom never home, always running far away to pursue some new dream? Raeanne goes after painkillers, drugs, alcohol, and sex to dull her pain and anger. Kaeleigh always tries so hard to be the good girl -- her father's perfect little flower. But when the girls were 9, Daddy started to turn to his beloved Kaeleigh in ways a father never should and has been sexually abusing her for years. For Raeanne, she needs to numb the pain of not being Daddy's favorite; for Kaeleigh, she wants to do everything she can to feel something normal, even if it means cutting herself and vomiting after every binge.
How Kaeleigh and Raeanne figure out just what it means to be whole again when their entire world has been torn to shreads is the guts and heart of this powerful, disturbing, and utterly remarkable book.
Over two days spent sipping peppermint hot chocolate and caramel frappachinos, I read Ellen Hopkin’s book Identical. I had been vaguely aware of her work, but hadn’t read anything of hers. Then I began a book blog and suddenly I was coming across her name frequently. Banned book week further introduced me to her works as her books are often challenged by parents who like to ban books. Naturally, that made me want to read her books, and then I found out that she writes her stories in a series of free verse poems. As it was a book buying banned week for me, I headed to Barnes and Noble and started reading Identical. The first day I read 2 hours straight, unable to find a stopping point until the Hubs called to remind me that I was suppose to be on my way to picking him up… oops.
Identical is the story of two sisters, identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne. Their parents marriage is falling apart, their mom away on the campaign trail and even further emotionally away when she is at home, and their father is a respected judge with a drinking problem. Years ago, while driving drunk, Kaeleigh and Raeanne’s father caused an accident and lost the love of his wife. She began separating from the family, and feeling dejected by his wife, their father turned to Kaeleigh for affection.
Yes, the story contains incest, drug use and scores of other issues that are less than pleasant so it may not be for the squeamish. But more importantly it deals with real issues that face teens, and there is a kind of redemption at end. I really enjoy Hopkin’s verse style of writing. I plan on reading the rest of her books simply because I love the style so much. Although this wasn’t a happy, happy sunshine book, it was a compelling look at an often secretive and destructive family issue.
Identical gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
Other verse style books you might enjoy:
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow