The only thing worse than having a sinister secret is keeping it that way -- and that is exactly what twin sisters Kaeleigh and Raeanne struggle to do. Being the teenaged daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they project the image as a dutiful, morally-correct family. Only the girls know "family" is a strained classification of their home life. Their family became totaled at the sight of a fateful car accident years ago which brought out various dangerous behaviors. With the politician mother galloping off on the competitive campaign trail, the girls are abandoned at home with their father, known as "Daddy." Though Daddy has given the girls a privileged lifestyle, he drinks himself into unconsciousness because of his past emotional struggles. Through his drinking, he begins misplacing his love for his lost wife upon his daughter Kaeleigh, which leads to her own whirlwind of struggles to keep her tampered life a secret, even from her devoted boyfriend. Sister Raeanne sees Daddy playing a twisted game of favorites and turns to drugs, promiscuity, and alcohol to cope. The car accident had destroyed more than just a car. It destroyed the family within it, too.
Author Ellen Hopkins divulges on a wild yet thought-provoking ride of how, despite their differences, the girls are more similar and connected than they want to think. Hopkins writes in her traditional poetic stanzas, placing extra emphasis and double entendre upon words/phrases to evoke a deeper understanding into the characters Kaeleigh and Reanne.
For those who are not intimidated by an almost 600-page text and live for the thrill of unexpected literary surprises, this book is prescribed for you. Hopkins continues writing her traditional surprising plot lines to create incredibly memorable characters and wildly colorful scenes, making this one of my top favorite books written by her. Picking up a copy of Identical will leave you reeling for more Hopkins. It certainly did for me.
Librarian’s Note: Can’t get enough of books written in free verse poetic style? Check out Ellen Hopkins’ latest book, Tilt, and consider trying books by Lisa Schroeder and Sonya Sones. Don’t forget to check out our list of recommended Novels in Verse!