In Ellen Hopkins’ Identical, identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne share a complicated, traumatic history.
Some of this history is revealed in pieces as the book progresses, showing us the twins as mirror images of each other, with Kaeleigh bingeing and cutting herself and Raeanne abusing drugs and engaging in sexual acting-out.
With their parents as pillars of the community—their father is a judge and their mother a member of congress—their lives would seemingly be picture-perfect. Certainly the external accouterments would suggest that.
But behind closed doors, ominous forces are at play—a father who sexually abuses his daughter and a mother that looks the other way—and the mirror image twin who observes and notices and protects in the only way she knows how.
Unable to reach out for help, the twins limp along, surviving as best they can.
And then, startling information comes out—at the hands of their paternal grandfather—revealing something of their father’s history that explains a lot.
A final revelation startles the reader while finally allowing the light to shimmer in…And now, healing can begin.
As I read this book, I was put off at first by the style of the text, but came to admire the creative arrangements of the words on the page—reflections of the emotion portrayed—and the original design of Kaeleigh and Raeanne’s voices as “mirror images” on opposing pages when transitioning from one voice to the other.
I will not forget this book for a long time.