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Identical Hardcover – August 26, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 251 customer reviews

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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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 (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ellen Hopkins is definitely one of my tops for favorite authors. Anything she writes I just devour. `Identical' was no different, it was a non-stop, drama filled; punch you in the gut kind of book. I couldn't put it down. Ellen writes her books in such a unique poetic way and yet they pack such a punch that they hit my emotions much harder than any book written in regular verse.

`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!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book was haunting, tearful and very realistic. hopkins books always tell a story about how we as humans stuggle to be perfect and how we hide our true selves just to impress people. identical really touched at my heart in so many ways that it cant be put into words. hopkins books are never overly dramatic, and its even better because when reading this and her other books you know that somewhere in the world there is someone who is in the same situation that the charecter in the book is in. so its like shes telling there story without really knowing them. i really recommend this book for everyone to read.
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