Saturday, December 5, 2009


Have you ever wished you were a twin? Double the clothes, switching places, and a permanent best friend? But sometimes being a twin isn’t so great. Just ask Raeanne and Kaleigh.

Raeanne and Kaleigh are identical twins on the outside, but very different on the inside. Raeanne is a rebel, while Kaleigh is the ‘good’ one. When they were young, they both experienced a tragic car accident that tore their family apart. After the accident, their father became an alcoholic and addicted to pain killers and their mother decided to run for office in order to be out of the house as much as possible. As the story continues, Raeanne and Kaleigh begin to divulge their secrets. Kaleigh is sexually abused by her father on a regular basis and Raeanne is often a silent witness. Raeanne also experiences jealousy because she doesn’t understand why her Daddy loves Kaleigh more than her, which is why she turns to a multitude of men attempting to satisfy that need. Kaleigh tried to tell once, but her mother didn’t believe her so now she keeps her mouth shut. Both of the girls have developed eating disorders and Kaleigh uses cutting to cope with the pain, guilt, and shame she feels.

Near the end of the book, the reader learns what really happened during the tragic car accident. Read Identical to find out what happened and why the twins are the way they are.

Identical deals with three very serious issues: sexual abuse, eating disorders, and cutting. Hopkins does not hold back details in her writing. The reader gets a very clear picture of exactly what is happening. I would recommend this book for high school readers. The seriousness of the issues and scene descriptions would make it a controversial book for middle school students. I have read other books by Hopkins and this is by far the most graphic and dark one I have read. There were times that I felt sick to my stomach, but I could not put the book down. I would not recommend using Identical as part of a reading curriculum. There will be students who cannot handle the issues that are addressed and they may feel uncomfortable. However, a high school health teacher could offer Identical as a literacy component of the class. The health issues that Raeanne and Kaleigh experience are addressed in health curriculums. In addition to being uncomfortable with the issues, students may have other reasons for not choosing Identical or disliking it. Identical is over 500 pages long, which may seem like too large of a task for some students. Others may not like Hopkins’ style. Identical, along with her other books, is written in narrative prose. If students are able to get past the pages looking like poetry and simply read the story, it becomes a fairly quick read. I personally really like the style and find myself not being able to put any of her books down!

This video is about a remarkable set of conjoined twins, Abby and Brittany. They have two spines, hearts and stomachs, three kidneys, two gall bladders, four lungs, and one liver. In addition, they share the large and small intestine, as well as their bladder and reproductive organs. Despite the obstacles they face, Abby and Brittany are positive and determined.


Krystal Tanami said...

Wow this sounds like a really powerful book. Thanks for not giving away the ending I may have to read it just because I want to find out what happened.

Andra said...

You should! Especially if you've read any of her other books and enjoyed them.


Alex H. said...

This sounds like another heartbreaking story. Unfortunately rape and incest are a reality in our society and they definitely are topics that need to be discussed.The only problem that one can encounter is the length of the book, it would be difficult to keep focused on 500 pages.

Andra said...

While it is 500 pages, it is a very quick read. I have read all of her books (all over 500 pages) in one sitting. The actual writing on each page is short (narrative poetry). Think three verses of a poem and then you move on to the next page. They are also difficult to put down because they are so interesting.

Tom Philion said...

thanks for the review, andra--your posting reminds me that "thick" books are in--the audience seems to be girls who are avid readers--and also high intensity issues are also popular with teens as well. Its interesting that the earliest books for teens in the US were often the same way (Go Ask Alice comes to mind), but there are now many, many more of these novels, and they are fictionalized, too.

Maybe the parallel here is to reality television? People and especially teens seem to want to experience an intense reality?

Andra said...


I notice lots of my students reading thick books, especially Hopkins. I was slightly taken aback at first because my students are eighth graders and I felt uncomfortable at times while reading Crank. However, I agree that teenagers want and possibly need to experience that 'intense reality.'

Thank you,