Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Identical
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Published: August 26, 2008 by McElderry
(565 pages, paperback)
Summary: Do twins begin in the womb? Or in a better place?
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge and a politician mother, they are an all-American family--on the surface. But behind the facade, each sister has her own dark secret,
Kaeleigh is the misplaced focus of Daddy's love; Raeanne sees Daddy playing a game of favorites, which she is losing. Secrets like the ones the twins harbor 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 must step up to save the other. But the question is--who?
My thoughts: Identical is another outstanding novel by Hopkins. It perfectly portrayed a fractured family caught in a web of its own lies and its own flaws. Raeanne uses substances and sex to dull the ignorance of her father's affections. Kaeleigh strives for perfection while allowing her father to love her like he can't love their mother anymore. Their mother is running away from the family she no longer loves. And all the while they've got their own personal demons to tackle.
The writing is beautiful and striking in Identical. It's painful how horrible the twins' lives are and I found myself having to distance myself from their pain at times, it was so intense. The story is so detailed and screwed up in the worst way that I practically found myself gritting my teeth, preparing for the next horrid event. Kaeleigh and Raeanne each had their own distinctive voices, and I felt each of their pain in different ways. Hopkins writes in a gripping, intense, poetic way. The free verse format feels natural and I loved the way it cut out the fluff and kept it more focused on the important ideas.
While I was screaming for Kaeleigh to get some help, open up to Ian, and realize how disgusting and unjust her father's actions were, I could (partially) understand her fears. She was sweet and shy and Identical was true eye-opener when it comes to sexual abuse because of her demeanor. It made me realize that all really isn't how it always seems. I loved Ian, who stuck by her side through everything, and he was so beautiful inside and out I was wishing Kaeleigh would just let him in. Despite everything, I couldn't help but feel weak in the knees over their passion and love. It just goes to show that Hopkins can write anything and still make it realistic and raw.
Raeanne uses substances to heal the wounds her father's lack of love for her has created. I didn't agree with many decisions she made, and while I could feel her palpable angst and hurt, I was less connected to her; she seemed too far gone, and if anything, I was angry at her for keeping quiet when her sister was so brutally abused. But Raeanne has her own set of problems that keep her going back to sex and drugs and drink.
I have to admit, I already knew the twists that occured in Identical. It ruined a bit of the suspense, and I definitely recommend going into this book spoiler-free; from what I've heard from friends who have read this book unknowing, it has more of an impact. As it was, I was still shocked by how Hopkins crafts the story; it was so raw that I still can't help but shut off some of the raging emotions this book drew from me. The plot line is finely written and in an unforgettable voice that takes no shortcuts and neglects no hideous facts. In the end, I loved Identical and hated what it contained. It lacked some of the punch some of Hopkins's titles have, but it was amazing in its own truthful ways.
Covering the Cover: I really love all of the covers of Hopkins's books have; it's simple and eye-catching and perfect for what's inside.
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4 stars


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