Margaret K. McElderry Books

Dece,ber 2010

$14.99 AU

566p pb

ISBN: 9781416950066

fp October 2008


Ellen Hopkins

from Simon & Schuster...

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favourites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harbouring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

Identical follows the lives of an apparently perfect family living the American dream. With a father who is a judge, a mother who is a politician and two beautiful and intelligent teenage daughters, an outsider would think they had everything. But it is a fašade. As the story progresses, the reader is confronted with the harsh realities of incest, teacher-student relationships, drug abuse, alcoholism, abandonment, self-mutilation, eating disorders and mental illness. Told in free verse, with the sisters’ entries often mirroring each other, Identical is unlike any other novel for young adults, and the captivating words of Ellen Hopkins conjures such images that the story will likely stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned.

I have never been so divided by a novel. On the one hand, I was losing sleep in my compulsive reading of the terrifying, yet beautifully honest, first person account of twin sisters Kaeleigh and Raeanne. On the other, I was physically cringing at the horrifyingly detailed and brutal descriptions of a life filled with trauma and pain.

Ellen Hopkins has written the story in such a way that the reader cannot help but read until the final twist in the tale. The issues presented in the narrative are periodically overwhelming, but the tragic story of a broken family is told so vividly and with such raw emotion that the reader feels a real connection with the sisters; as though we are the best friend they never had.

Milly, age 14, Canberra, Australia

Looking for something confronting and extraordinary?  Identical will keep you enthralled and guessing to the very end. On the outside we have a picture perfect Californian family; father is a judge, mother is campaigning for a seat in Congress, twin daughters are bright and pretty. But what lurks beneath that carefully constructed fašade? There are clues like a tragic car accident years earlier, the mother’s long absences from home, the father’s whiskey drinking habit, and one out-of-control twin. But nothing prepares you for the final revelation.

Don’t be daunted by the size of this book. It is written in the form of a verse novel and is skilfully constructed, making you want to keep reading as you are drawn into each twin’s life while she tells her story in turn.

Definitely for the more mature young adult reader, this book takes a bold and frank look at issues like sex, drugs and sexual abuse. Girls, especially, are likely to be fascinated by this journey behind closed doors where the truth about seemingly perfect lives is revealed.

Irene, Canberra, Australia

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