Ellen Hopkins has done a wonderful job, once again, in writing a free-verse best seller!
Identical is a book that is simple to read, and is relatable amongst many teenagers in today’s society.
Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella are sisters living in California. Like most siblings, they both live in the same house, have a mother and father, and go to school together; however, they are also perfect identical twins on the outside, but with each a whole different personality on the inside. Each twin holds her own dark secrets.
Kaeleigh, in the beginning of the story, seems very pulled together, more so than her sister, Raeanne. She lives a life that would seem almost flawless to an outsider – she has nice clothes, her own bedroom, and a house furnished with fine furniture and decorations that she shares with her family. Kaeleigh closes herself off to other people, is obedient to her father, and doesn’t let many get close to her. The one that is anywhere near close to her, is her best friend, Ian. She has known Ian since the fourth grade, and since then, he has been head-over-heels in love with her; however, Kaleigh is not able to love Ian fully in return, until she reveals to him the secret that’s holding her back.
Raeanne, on the other hand, is much different from Kaeleigh. She has built walls between those who surround her, and tries her best to avoid her mother and sister. She has made her soul in to stone, and shows little emotion on the outside, but secretly is envious of Kaeleigh, and her father’s affections for her sister. Because of this jealousy and lack of fatherly love, Raeanne is rebellious, and is seeing a boy named Mick, who is willing to give her drugs in exchange for sexual favors. Raeanne’s love for male attention grows throughout the book, and she begins to flirt with her teacher, and beings to hook-up with a new partner, Ty, leaving Mick behind.
Both girls put on a picture-perfect act when the press are around for their congresswoman mother, and others who surround them. But a mother who is hardly ever home, and a father who is a drunk cannot suppress hatred, depression, envy, and the boiling of the secrets they keep. With the hatred building up in Kaeleigh, the books reveals she starts cutting herself and binge eating, and that the secret she has been keeping is the sexual abuse she receives from her father, which had been going on since early adolescence. Meanwhile, we learn Raeanne is not only sleeping around and using drugs, even prescriptions, but is also beginning to make herself purge. Also, after Kaeleigh befriends an elderly lady who was once sexually abused, she also learns she is not alone. The shocking twist to this story, is that Kaeleigh turns out to have a personality disorder, known as DID, where Raeanne is her other personality, and her sister she lost in a tragic family automobile accident.
Now that I have summarized the book for this review, I will now give my opinion on it:
This book is great for any young reader, especially those in the elder teen years (maybe 15 to 18 years old). Her writing style is simple, considering it’s in free verse, instead of your usual paragraphs of text, and thus making the book quick to read. The writing style creates pictures with text, and also keeps the reader’s attention. Hopkins has a way with her words!
I would suggest this book to anyone going through, who has experienced, or wants to be informed of sexual abuse and split personality disorder. While those may not seem like topics to suggest to young readers, this book has a way of handling sexual abuse and DID in a way that is realistic, relatable and touching!
While my review for this book is good – after all, I love ALL the Ellen Hopkin’s books – and I pressure young readers to pick it up, I also forewarn to be aware that there is some vulgar language in it; however, the language cannot overpower the touching message this book sends: don’t keep sexual abuse, or any kind of abuse, a secret, because there are people who love you, and there is help.
This is book should most definitely be on the “must read” list for any teenager.