Thursday, December 22, 2011

Identical, by Ellen Hopkins

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.

This book is from my personal library.

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