Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Friday 20 May 2016

Hunted (House of Night, #5)Identical
Ellen Hopkins
Genre(s): Contemporary, Poetry, Young Adult
Published: December 21st 2010
Pages: 565
Rating: 4 stars

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 shreds is the guts and heart of this powerful, disturbing, and utterly remarkable book.

This is dark. This is heavy. This is triggering.

I feel bad about giving this any stars because, really, I didn't enjoy it. The subject matter is more than taboo - it's something that should never even be thought of - so giving it any stars feels like condoning it. Hopkins, however, manages to weave a chilling, gripping, moving - and disgustingly far too real - tale of childhood sexual abuse and incest.

Talk about jumping in at the deep end. I threw myself head first off a cliff into Ellen Hopkins' work by starting with this.

Whilst reading, I wanted to hold the book at arms length, pinched between thumb and forefinger. But much like roadside accident, I found myself rubber necking and compelled to read more in other to know what happened and, hopefully, gain some peace.

There's no arguing that, yes, while this is a disgusting story, it's a good one. The free-verse works well in telling the story in a poetic way, without being overly flowery (or, conversely, outright vulgar and obscene). Hopkins' managed to construct well rounded, interesting characters who you couldn't help but feel for whilst reading. Kaeleigh and Raeanne elicit multiple emotions - frustration, anger, disgust, and sympathy, to name but a few - in a few short verses, highlighting Hopkins' skill as a story teller.

Identical was a very quick read (despite being close to 600 pages) that has opened my eyes to novels in verse, something I never thought I'd say


  1. Sounds intense.

    I read The Zoo Father by Pascale Petit a little while back - a collection of poetry where the author is trying to come to terms with her abusive father dying and all the mixed emotions that that caused.

    It was... honest... but not exactly an easy read. The subject matter here kind of reminds me of that.

    1. I've never heard of that before but it sounds interesting.


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