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Identical Hardcover – August 26, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Identical teen twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne share a picture-perfect California life that is rank with dark, dangerous secrets under its surface. Their mother, who is running for Congress, leaves them at home with their father, a district court judge who is addicted to liquor and OxyContin. Daddy regularly molests Kaeleigh, using her as a stand-in for his absentee wife, and controls every aspect of her life. Raeanne sees every detail and reacts to her father's favoritism by acting out sexually and getting high on pot whenever possible. Written in free verse from alternating viewpoints, Identical tells the twins' story in intimate and often-graphic detail. Hopkins packs in multiple issues including eating disorders, drug abuse, date rape, alcoholism, sexual abuse, and self-mutilation as she examines a family that "puts the dys in dysfunction." The tension builds slowly and subtly, erupting in a shattering climax of psychological disintegration and breakthrough that reveals the truth about the twins and their father's own childhood secrets. Gritty and compelling, this is not a comfortable read, but its keen insights make it hard to put down.—Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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From Booklist

Identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne alternate their stories in this tale of family secrets and self-destructive behavior. Their campaigning-politician mother is largely absent from their lives, and their father, a renowned judge, sexually abuses Kaeleigh and ignores Raeanne. The twins fight their demons in various destructive ways, including drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and eating disorders. Flanagan reads the parts of both girls—a great choice for identical twins who appear as mirror images of one another. Raeanne’s jaded, harsh tones are in stark contrast to Kaeleigh’s dreamy little-girl voice. The free-verse construction of the novel is especially suited to audio, with Flanagan bringing forth the drama and timing of the poems. Though the content of the book—especially scenes of incest—makes for uncomfortable listening, this is a powerful interpretation of an emotional story. Grades 9-12. --Heather Booth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416950052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416950059
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I was adopted at birth and raised by a great, loving older couple. I grew up in Palm Springs CA, although we summered in Napa and Lake Tahoe, to avoid those 120 degree summers. After my adopted parents died, I did find my birth mother, who lives in Michigan with my half sister.

I studied journalism in college, but left school to marry, raise kids and start my own business--a video store, before the mega-chains were out there. After a divorce, I met my current husband and we moved to Tahoe to become ski bums and otherwise try to find our dreams. At that time, I went to work for a small alternative press, writing stories and eventually editing.

When we moved down the mountain to the Reno area, I started writing nonfiction books, many of which you can see here. The rest are viewable on my personal website. I also continued to freelance articles for newspapers and magazines.

All that has changed, with the publication of my novel, CRANK, which has led to a valued career writing YA novels in verse, all of which explore the more difficult situations young adults often find themselves in. Will I ever write one in prose? No doubt! But, for the moment, writing novels in verse fulfills two needs: writing poetry and writing fiction. The combination is so interesting!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on October 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins, 16 years old, mirror images; physically alike but in personality very different. They are half of a deeply dysfunctional family. Their mother, a politician running for office in Washington, has left them in every way possible; their father, a judge, numbs himself with whiskey and pills before coming to one daughter's bed while the other alternately hates him for it and longs for his love.

Kaeleigh, soft-centered, binges and cuts herself, can't feel worthy of the young man who loves her; and finds her only common ground with an 80-year-old woman who lives in the residential center where she works part-time. Raeanne, on the other hand, is tough and cold, has sex with dangerous boys for drugs, steals booze and oxy from her father, and purges to free herself from the venom of her past.

The unbearable events that poison the twins' present are rooted in the past, but just how far back? The car accident when they were eight years old, or further back in their parents' youth? The foreshadowing is woven through the present story, and even if the reader glimpses the truth before full disclosure, the book's worth rests not in its revelation but in the escalation of pain resulting from the family history.

I had not read any earlier books by author Ellen Hopkins so I was unprepared for the highly original design concept of this book. Done entirely in free verse in the alternating voices of the sisters, the words on the page are arranged in patterns that reflect the tone of the story. Letters, hearts, teardrops; tight intense verses; jagged word explosions on the page; and most interesting of all, where the story transitions from one twin to the other, the words on the facing pages mesh together like the teeth of a zipper.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad VINE VOICE on December 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Raeanne and Kaeleigh are identical twins. Identical on the outside, at least, but inside, the girls could not be more different. Kaeleigh harbors a secret, Raeanne harbors one as well. As Kaeleigh deals with her fathers unwanted affections, Raeanne pines for them. As Kaeleigh binges, Raeanne purges. As Kaleigh pushes boys away, Raeanne juggles multiple partners. What happens when all the secrets bubble to the surface?

I have read many of Ellen Hopkins' young adult books, but this was, by far, the most powerful of them all. This book focuses on trauma, and the effects it can have on the lives of everyone involved. Trauma spanning generations, states, political affiliations. There is also an emphasis on seeking wholeness in unlikely and unhealthy ways. We see brokenness in nearly every character in the book, each of them using different means to feel whole again.

I thought the character development was so incredibly done, particularly once the secrets are all revealed. This is one of those books that, once you know the ending, you are compelled to go re-read it again, looking for all the hidden clues. And Hopkins is a master of hidden clues. I found this writing to be really brilliant, and it reminds me why I love novels written in verse form so much.

I know that books with tough subject matter are questionable for young adult readers, so parents should be fully aware of the content before allowing their children to read it. This book is probably most appropriate for young adult readers at the older end of that spectrum, late high school to early college age.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vania Stoyanova on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ellen Hopkins's IDENTICAL is....WOW! I know that's not much of a review and if I could I would just leave it at that. The last book I felt such amazement for was WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson and although the two books are so different they both have one thing in common... they go for guts, gritty and dark. They go straight for the jugular sparing nothing and showing us the raw insides.
Hopkins is a master writer, lyrical and poignant, as she tells the story of twin girls, Raeanne and Kaeleigh. One who goes off the deep end in a self destructing manner and the other who hides it inside and takes the pain. The girls are troubled by sexual abuse, parents who busy themselves with life and ignore them, emotional and psychological pain that haunts and tatters them occasionally. Each girl battles her own demons in her own way and Hopkins does well to get us inside the battered psyche of the two troubled teens.
Even though I listened to this book the story was just as impactful and heart wrenching as the written, poem like pages might be. Hopkins story was gritty, messy, and painful to listen to but at the end still filled with hope. Point of the story... you always have a choice. I recommend this book to fans of dark and emotional themes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Summer on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Identical, as you may have figured out by the title, is about Identical twins, Kaeleigh and Raeanne. Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to this family. Father is a well respected District Court judge, Mother is a politician, currently running for U.S. Congress. Both 16 yr. old girls dressed to impress when they leave their beautiful well manicured home in their picture perfect neighborhood on their way to a prestigious school. Anyone passing in the street would be green with envy with the vision put forth by this family. The only thing is that when you look a little deeper you will find that anything THAT perfect rarely is, and that bodes true in this story. Kaeleigh seems to be the smart one, making good decisions and always the one to earn the love of her father. But all Kaeleigh really wants is the love of her mother, who is practically nonexistent in the lives of her family. Raeanne does well in school but looks for love in all the wrong places to replace the love she never seems to receive from her father, who is always so focused on Kaeleigh that he rarely, if ever, has time for her. Raeanne dives deep into extracurricular activities and drowns out all emotion either in a pipe, paper or bottle. What would people say if they knew the truth about the daughters of these upstanding citizens? What would they say if they knew that each of these girls holds a secret so dark, they don't dare speak of it. Eventually these girls find that their troubles aren't so different, in fact, they are identical.

This novel, just like all the others written by Ellen Hopkins, is ingenious. She never fails to bring something new to the table, as if her imagination is an endless pit that she can pull from with ease. That's how it seems to me anyway.
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