Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Release Date: Aug. 2008
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Meet Kaeliegh. She's your average, all-American girl who loves to act and work part-time at a retirement home. She's rather soft spoken and tries to help people when she can. But underneath the surface, she's harboring a dark secret. When she was eight, her father crossed a line that no father should ever cross...one that ended with him molesting and raping her. She longs to break free and have a normal life & love, but could she ever have enough strength to do it alone?
Now, meet Raeanne, her twin sister. She suspects her sister's secret, but doesn't understand her pain. In fact, she's a little jealous of the attention her sister is getting. She sometimes even wishes it was her. A crazy need that pushes her to seek out attention through older guys, drugs, and sex. Raeanne believes that she is in control, but the truth is that her self-destructive attitude is about to send her over the edge. Will she seek out help before it's too late?
Watch as this seemingly normal family falls apart in plain sight. Their lies and secrets chip away at them a little more each day until there is nothing left of the life they once knew. Can they pull it together before everything crumbles or will this be the end for Kaeliegh, Raeanne and their all-American family?
So, this was my first Hopkins book and all I have to say is, wow. I have heard time and time again how she has a way with verse and bringing it to life and I fully agree. I was reading this one in the 20-24 hour range of the read-a-thon and boy did it hold my attention. I remembering struggling to make it to that mark last year, but Identical truly helped keep the tiredness at bay. And this coming from a girl who normally doesn’t like verse novels! But Hopkins does such a great job at bringing her characters to life. I felt like I knew Kaeleigh and Raeanne so well, almost as if the 565 pages had been full of prose with lots of descriptions rather than carefully constructed verse. And, without ruining it, the ending totally surprised me. In no way shape or form did I see that one coming. I mean, yes, I have heard of that concept before and even have seen it in another book, but I was so drawn into the characters that I totally missed the truth of it all. Looking back at it now, I can totally see it, but I so missed the big clues as I was reading. I almost want to go back and read it again and see what other clues I missed along the way.
Before I end this mini-review, I want to talk about the writing itself. I’ve already established that I think Hopkins is pretty amazing, but she takes it to a whole new level with the stylization of her poems. I loved how she did different shapes from time to time and how they corresponded to the poem (hearts, glasses, etc). I also really liked the mini-sentence at the end/start of each Kaeleigh/Raeanne section and how they mirrored each other. And to be honest, I was halfway through the book before I really noticed it. I thought Hopkins was just sticking a work out to the side and never really even noticed that those isolated words formed a phrase. (Of course, my delay in noticing should be totally forgivable; after all I was reading this one from 1:00 – 6:00 am. Normally, I’m not so dense and would have caught it right away.) And how for each sister that phrase took on a new meaning. It really did help put extra meaning to what the sisters were talking about.
Being a slight poet myself, I tip my hat to Hopkins and her powerful skill to bring a story to life via verse. I certainly look forward to picking up Hopkins’ other works.