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Identical Hardcover – August 26, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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. I found it literally impossible to put this book down and read it in one long session. The originality of design hooked me, but the intensity of the story delivered a punch that will stay with me for a long time.
In publisher-speak, the category "Young Adult" refers to readers approximately 12 to 18 years old. Identical would be better suited for the more mature reader toward the upper end of that range, having explicit scenes involving sex, alcohol and drug abuse, purging and cutting. Any adult wanting to understand the pressures and realities of teen life will find this book enlightening, and for everyone else it's a fast, riveting read; dark, but beautifully paced and crackling with painful truth. Five stars at least.
Linda Bulger, 2008
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.
`Identical' touches some very tough issues. Incest, death, attempted suicide, and eating disorders are just a few of them. The girls in this story are identical twins and they go through hell and the sad thing is there are girls all over the world that live through their own personal hell every day. This is their reality. That is one of my favorite things about Ellen's books; she hits on dark subjects and sheds light on them. It makes them more known, when a lot of people live in a world of denial.
`Identical' was such a great book, I don't even think I can do it justice in words. The ending was such a mind warp, let me tell you! It was crazy! I did not see that coming in any shape or form. It was a shocker. I won't give any of it away because it is just too good to spoil.
You will just have to read it for yourself and trust me you don't want to miss this book!