Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Genres: Young Adult, Verse
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?
Kayleigh and Raeanne are very difficult characters, but they are also strangely compelling. Their lives are so foreign to me that they were very hard to relate to, but I think that Hopkins did an exceptional job of creating dynamic girls who I really believed in and wanted to know more about. I definitely preferred Raeanne over Kayleigh for the most part, despite the oddity of her yearning for her father’s attention that he gave, unwanted, to Kayleigh. They were very much Hopkins characters, in the sense that I can’t imagine them created by anyone else.
The plot twist in Identical comes pretty late in the book, and I was completely unprepared for it. I had an inkling that there was something odd about the girls, but that was beyond my wildest imaginings. I knew early on that something happened in the car accident that wasn’t being told to the reader, but my guess was totally wrong.
The overall plot was actually a little slow for me. Like all of Hopkins books, it was much more focused on the inner developments and emotional states of the characters than on any set series of events.
Hopkins is the reason I like poetry. She’s the reason I gave poetry a chance. That said, I think I’m beginning to outgrow the simpleness of her writing. It may be the broad(er) variety of poetry that I’ve read now, as an English student, but I find it not to be quite as evocative as I once thought. I have no doubt in my mind that this is entirely my own experience of her work and that the actual quality of her writing has not changed. I thought it was still very engrossing – the evidence of that rests in the fact that I read the whole book in less than a day. It was decently paced; as I said, the emphasis is not on a physical journey but on a mental one.
It wasn’t dreadful, but it wasn’t exceptional either. I found it, for all the controversial and touchy subject matter, a rather mediocre read. The twist was great and it filled in a few holes that I had poked into what I’d read so far, but it just didn’t give me that satisfied feeling (or the longing for more, more, more) I want when I finish a book.