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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Identical

Title: Identical
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 
 August 26, 2008
Reviewer: Stephanie

Summary: Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

Review: This book, like all of the others in Hopkins's repertoire, is filled with edginess. This one, unlike some of the others that I've read, is so disturbing that I had a tough time reading it. Maybe I'm just emotional or something, but I had an almost physical aversion to a couple of the characters in this book. I think that this is a mark of good writing, because it takes a lot to make me feel physically ill just from reading.

In Identical, we meet two main characters. Sisters. Identical twin sisters. Kaeleigh and Raeanne. There are lots of ways that I could spoil this book by going into deep detail about these two characters, but I will not. I had to figure it all out on my own, and I don't want to ruin this for all of you who decide to read this book.

That said, I can talk about a majority of the plot of this book without giving too much away. The twins' father is a judge. Which is fairly ironic, because he is a demon at home. He's addicted to alcohol and prescription pills, and started sexually abusing Kaeleigh when she was a young girl. Their mother is not much better. She escapes her duties as a wife and mother by campaigning around the country. Even when she's home, she's not really there. Everything is about image all of the time.

And Kaeleigh lives up to that perfect ideal. She does well in school, and is chaste. She has a bit of a timid personality, probably due to the abuse she's suffered at the hands of her father and the indifference of her mother. She's learned to cope with trauma by being quiet and calm. She's accepted her role in the family.

Raeanne is Kaeleigh's opposite. She is a rebel to the core and could not care less about her father and her mother. She does not take school (or anything else for that matter) very seriously. She has sex with lots of partners, uses drugs regularly, and is the very definition of reckless.

This book goes back and forth its narrative between these two sisters. Each section shows you which sister is speaking, but you almost don't need to know after a while because they are so distinctly different.

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