Sixteen-year-old identical twin daughters of a district court judge and a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella desperately struggle with secrets that have already torn them and their family apart. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Perfect on the outside, but behind the Normal Rockwell facades, each holds its secrets. Dark, untellable. Practically unbelievable." -- IDENTICAL
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are 16-year-old identical twins, the daughters of a district court judge father and politician mother running for US Congress. Everything on the surface seems fine, but underneath run very deep and damaging secrets. What really happened when the girls were 7 years old in that car accident that Daddy caused? And why is Mom never home, always running far away to pursue some new dream? Raeanne goes after painkillers, drugs, alcohol, and sex to dull her pain and anger. Kaeleigh always tries so hard to be the good girl -- her father's perfect little flower. But when the girls were 9, Daddy started to turn to his beloved Kaeleigh in ways a father never should and has been sexually abusing her for years. For Raeanne, she needs to numb the pain of not being Daddy's favorite; for Kaeleigh, she wants to do everything she can to feel something normal, even if it means cutting herself and vomiting after every binge.
How Kaeleigh and Raeanne figure out just what it means to be whole again when their entire world has been torn to shreads is the guts and heart of this powerful, disturbing, and utterly remarkable book. - (Simon and Schuster)
Since the car accident eight years earlier, identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne have struggled with dark secrets. Their politician mother is both physically and emotionally absent, and their father, a district court judge, sexually abuses Kaeleigh. The girls struggle with an encyclopedic array of problems that include promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse, binging, purging, and cutting. Hopkins' trademark free verse carries the sometimes explicit narrative in the girls' alternating, authentic voices as their self-destructive behaviors accelerate. Especially effective are the poems positioned on facing pages that build on identical phrases in mirror imagery. Unfortunately, the book is overly long, stalling the pace in the last third and lessening the impact before powering through to the climax. Adult characters are undeveloped, but the legion of Hopkins' teen fans will be mesmerized by the emotional portrayal of the twins. A plot twist at the end will send readers immediately back to the beginning to track the clues. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Identical twins Raeanne and Kaeleigh alternate first-person accounts of life in an abusive household. Hopkins's verse-novel style effectively showcases her talent for word choice and form. However, the plot's melodrama verges on exploitation as the girls experience explicitly described incest, drug abuse, alcoholism, bulimia, promiscuity, S&M, cutting, suicide, and mental illness. Surprise revelations in the final episodes complicate the conclusion. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Hopkins's gift with free verse reaches new heights in this portrait of splintered identical twins. Sexual abuse, a fatal car accident and violent alcoholism have wrecked their family. Mom disappears by running for Congress. Daddy drinks Wild Turkey and pops painkillers—and molests Kaeleigh. Raeanne acts out with bulimia and rough sex, willingly trading sex for drugs. Kaeleigh shuts down, throws up and withdraws from everyone, even steady Ian, her best friend, who's in love with her. Ian offers the first healthy love Kaeleigh's ever known, but too many secrets lurk under her surface. Masterful shards of verse convey the fragmented emotions: Falling for Ian, Kaeleigh feels, "Fire. Ice. Honey. Salt. Eiderdown. / Iron. Every fiber of me twitches / confusion." Some facing pages reveal additional mirror-poems along the gutter, each identical poem holding a very different meaning for each sister. Kaeleigh and Raeanne maintain distinct voices throughout as they wrestle with psychic damage and an astonishing, devastating realization. Sharp and stunning, with a brilliant final page. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection
Like HopkinsÆs other books, this book is shocking. It is the story of a familyùan alcoholic father, an absent mother, and identical twins. The narration alternates between Kaeleigh, the passive twin, and Raeanne, the rebel. It is eventually revealed that Kaeleigh is being molested by her father and Raeanne is jealous that Kaeleigh gets all of the attention. Raeanne gets involved with drugs and bad boys, and Kaeleigh is just going through the motions. Although the molestation was hard to read about, the book itself has a message to which teens will relate. This is a very raw book with cursing and drug use, full of disturbing events, but a book you canÆt put down. Additional Selection. Tricia Grady, Media Specialist, Franklin (Indiana) Community Middle School ¬ 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Using free verse as her vehicle, Hopkins (Crank , Glass ) takes readers on a harrowing ride into the psyches of 16-year-old identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne, both of whom are racing toward self-destruction. The girls' family appears picture-perfect. Their father is a prominent judge, their mother is running for Congress, and both girls do well in school. But ever since an accident, "Mom doesn't love anyone./ She is marble. Beautiful./ Frigid. Easily stained/ by her family. What's left/ of us, anyway. We are corpses." Raeanne seeks escape in sex and drugs; Kaileigh binges and cuts herself. Brief, gutsy confessions reveal a history of sexual abuse and emotional neglect, and it's not clear that both girls will survive it. Hopkins's verse is not only lean and sinuous, it also demonstrates a mastery of technique. Strategically placed concrete verse includes a poem about revenge shaped like a double-edged sword; in another, about jealousy, the lines form one heart reflecting another, until a rupture breaks the symmetry at the bottom. Often, the twins' entries mirror each other, on facing pages: although used differently in the two poems, the same key words are set off in corresponding stanzas ("think./ How/ different/ life./ could be" reads one set of key words). Those for whom Uncle Vampire means something will anticipate the still-breathless climax; all others, including most of the target audience, will be shocked. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
[Page 59]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 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
[Page 122]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
This disturbing story in blank verse alternates between the voices of identical teenage twins, Raeanne and Kaeleigh. With an absentee mother obsessed with her political career and an alcoholic father who sexually abuses Kaeleigh, their lives are only superficially picture perfect. Raeanne escapes through promiscuous sex, drugs, and alcohol while Kaeleigh adds binging, purging, and cutting. Boyfriend Ian offers love, but Kaeleigh is too damaged to reciprocate. Her overdose precipitates the revelation that Raeanne had actually died eight years ago in a car accident caused by her father's drunkenness. Its trauma and the hideous incestuous relationship with her father have led to Kaleigh's shattered identity. The father is removed, his mother steps up, and Kaeleigh enters counseling to begin healing Through images that sting like hot tar on raw flesh, readers feel the anguish of a family's brokenness and the repulsive touch of incest. When her father uses her, Kaeleigh says "I don't cry out but I do cry a bucket of silent tears" as her father slithers away. Ian's tenderness and friend Greta's concern provide some respite, but mostly there is just one painful scene after another. Some show hard-partying teens and sexual interactions. The poetry is powerful and sometimes cleverly displayed visually as in the heart-shaped poems about love. The denouement provides insight into dissociative identity disorder but no miraculous healing, and the content justifies graphic images and F-bombs. Almost impossible to put down, this book underscores the sordidness that can soil young lives.-Barbara Johnston 4Q 3P S A/YA Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.