4.6 709
by Ellen Hopkins

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"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…  See more details below


"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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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VOYA - Barbara Johnston
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. Reviewer: Barbara Johnston
Children's Literature - Phyllis J. Perry
Told in non-rhyming verse, the narration of this story alternates between the voices of identical twins, Kaeleigh and Raeanne, who, on the surface, live what appears to be a good and privileged life in California. They are the daughters of a father who is a district court judge and a mother who is a politician. The girls recall a time not long ago when their parents appeared to be in love with each other, but that was before an awful auto accident that changed their lives. After the accident, their mother doesn't seem to have the capacity to love anyone. She is constantly on the road electioneering, coming home, it seems, only for photo opportunities to enhance her political campaign. The father turns for love to his daughter, Kaeleigh, while Raeanne feels rejected and shut out. Raeanne begins making choices that involve drugs, alcohol and sex with multiple partners. Kaeleigh is drawn to a young man, Ian, but has difficulty in forming relationships with someone her own age. The twins keep a dark secret. The book is challenging both in its successful experimental format and in its subject matter which contains graphic examples of incest, sex, addiction, bulimia, cutting, S&M and alcohol abuse. This story of a fractured family is compelling, sharp and never sugar-coated. Definitely not for the young teen, it requires a mature audience. Hopkins has written other novels including Crack, which is also written in free verse. Reviewer: Phyllis J. Perry
School Library Journal

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

Kirkus 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)
“A powerful interpretation of an emotional story.”
The Trades
Hopkins's verse is not only lean and sinuous, it also demonstrates a mastery of technique. [starred review]
From the Publisher
“A powerful interpretation of an emotional story.”

“Hopkins' word sculpture and verse patterns are just as keen as ever, creating shapes and secret messages. . . One thing is for certain—you won't soon forget this story.”
—The Trades

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Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.90(d)
HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Mirror, Mirror

When I look into a
mirror, it is her face I see.
Her right is my left, double
moles, dimple and all.
My right is her left,

We are exact opposites,
Kaeleigh and me.
Mirror-image identical
twins. One egg, one sperm,
one zygote, divided,
sharing one complete
set of genetic markers.

On the outside
we are the same. But not
inside. I think
she is the egg, so
much like our mother
it makes me want to scream.


That makes me the sperm,
I guess. I take completely
after our father.
All Daddy, that's me.


Good, bad. Left, right.
Kaeleigh and Raeanne.
One egg, one sperm.
One being, split in two.

And how many souls?

Interesting Question

Don't you think?
I mean, if the Supreme
Being inserts a single soul
at the moment of conception,
does that essence divide
itself? Does each half then
strive to become whole
again, like a starfish
or an earthworm?

Or might the soul clone itself,
create a perfect imitation
of something yet to be
defined? In this way,
can a reflection be altered?

Or does the Maker,
in fact, choose
to place two
separate souls within
a single cell, to spark
the skirmish that ultimately
causes such an unlikely rift?

Do twins begin in the womb?

Or in a better place?

One Soul or Two

We live in a smug California
valley. Rolling ranch land, surrounded
by shrugs of oak-jeweled hills.
Green for two brilliant
months sometime around spring,
burnt-toast brown the rest of the year.

Just over an unremarkable mountain
stretches the endless Pacific.
Mornings here come wrapped
in droops of gray mist.
Most days it burns off by noon.
Other days it just hangs on
and on. Smothers like a wet blanket.

Three towns triangulate
the valley, three corners, each
with a unique flavor:
weathered Old West;
antiques and wine tasting;
just-off-the-freeway boring.

Smack in the center is the town
where we live, and it is the most
unique of all, with its windmills
and cobbled sidewalks, designed
to carry tourists to Denmark.
Denmark, California-style.

The houses line smooth black
streets, prim rows
of postcard-pretty dwellings,
coiffed and manicured from curb
to chimney. Like Kaeleigh
and me, they're perfect
on the outside. But behind
the Norman Rockwell facades,
each holds its secrets.

Like Kaeleigh's and mine,
some are dark. Untellable.
Practically unbelievable.

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Identical 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 709 reviews.
McKenzieElise More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Ellen Hopkins books. And before I read this book, Impulse was my favorite. And I didn't think she could write another book any better. But she did. Identical is the best book I have ever read. I couldn't put the book down once I started. And the ending was amazing. Not predictable AT ALL. Which was the best part. I can't wait till her next novel.
lilmudduckmuffineater More than 1 year ago
It's a good book but it's also a little disturbing. I had to force myself to read some parts, and it's not because it was bad or boring, it was because some parts were too hard to read for me. There are some really hard things to read in this book, a lot of mature subject matter. There's a twist most will not expect at the end and will be suprised when reading it. Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins. Kaeleigh has been sexually abused by her father since she was a child and finds it hard to say no to anything. The only good things she has going for her life is Ian. Raeanne always has to be high, and loves to be used on her own terms. She loves having sex with many different guys and finds herself attracted to one of her teachers. I'm not gonna get too much into the plot because if I do I can easily give it away. So if you don't mind the sensitve subject matter of drugs, sex, and sexual abuse then I say read this book. It will be one of those books you will think about long after.
Balina More than 1 year ago
I loved it and will probably end up rereading it.
TheBookResort More than 1 year ago
Ellen Hopkins has a natural gift for writing so poignantly you don't just read the words on paper, you become the words she so eloquently delivers. Hopkins writing style is so naked & sincere it simply steals your breath away. Identical is told in free verse & sometimes that form of free verse utilizes pictures or poems w/i poems to convey it's message -- simply brilliant. I knew where Hopkins was going w/ the storyline & it made me ache inside. I was not just an outsider looking in but was experiencing all the heart wrenching emotions Kaeleigh & Raeanne endured thanks to Hopkins' seamless stratagem. It was difficult reading about what the father was doing to one of the daughters. I had a difficult time w/ it because it hit too close to home. All I am saying is, the cycle of abuse is a violently vicious one! Hopkins' descriptions are remarkably riveting & powerfully fervent you may have to write a memo w/ the words "exhale" in bold print! I am not going to give away the design of Identical, you are going to have to read the book for yourself. Hopkins' Identical is definitely not a book to be missed. I have heard mumblings that this book is "graphic" but I ask myself as I type this, "Is this book anymore graphic than what you endured @ the hands of your uncle @ the tender age of 9?" My answer... No! I believe Hopkins deserves kudos for shattering the glass ceiling w/ her groundbreaking prose, ripped from the headlines storylines & richly poured lyrical exposition. Identical needs to be on every library shelf in the universe, given as gifts to young girls & parents across the globe. While imitator's dip their toes, literary doyenne Hopkins plunges right in! Quick! Grab a copy of Hopkins' Identical.
HBG More than 1 year ago
This book was quite gripping,although it is most certainly not for all age groups. I would say the age group is around 12-16, for sexually themed parts, etc. But it was really good, written in a sort of poem style. It took some getting used to, but once you did get used to that it was a really interesting read. It is told from the point of view of two twins, Kaeleigh and Raeanne. Kaeleigh is more quiet and good, while Raeanne is more daring. Basically, their dad crashes the car when they were little, and the mother got seriously injured, although nursed back to health by the twins' rueful father. She never loved their father the same again. Kaeleigh becomes the outlet for her dad's misdirected love, while Raeanne takes it as favoritism and takes out her feelings by doing drugs, sex, and alcohol. As Hopkins weaves a story of lies, hurt, and love, Kaeleigh and Raeanne realize that one of them will have to step up and save them both. But who will it be? And then, one of them finds something critical about the car crash, something that will change their lives forever. Read Idetical to discover what exactly this is.
Nicoleheckyes More than 1 year ago
Identical by Ellen Hopkins is a book I highly recommend. This book will have you turning the pages quicker than I can say popcorn. Ellen Hopkins creates the perfect story with plenty of drama, romance, tragedy and a special twist. This book brings the readers on a ride of a lifetime. The main characters of the book are twins. You¿d think all twins were the same but not all are. One of the twins is a rebel and the other a goody two shoes. Both live completely different lives but share the same identity as twins. This book will put you into the shoes of a lifestyle you¿d thought only few would experience. Some scenes may be too much to handle but if you make it through you won¿t regret reading it. This book references sexual abuse, drug use. If I had to rate this book 1-5 stars it would be a definite 5!
hannahkathryn More than 1 year ago
From beginning to end, Ellen Hopkins delivers a beautiful, heartwrenching, and shocking novel about everything a teenage girl faces; sex, love, family issues, death, drugs, and much more. It was hard for me to put it down- and when I finally finished, the ending was so shocking and so unbelievable, it made me want to go back and reread it.
tiffany_cullen More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Ellen Hopkins books, and Identical is definitely my favorite. You are brought into the world of Kaeleigh and Raeanne, twins with two completely different outlooks on life. This book has given me so much insight into a dysfunctional family, which is something I can relate to although not to the extent of this book. Hopkins style of writing is something I love. Her words just flow onto the pages that make up her creation of what should be considered a "hard life". All of her novels were based on people that have lives that are beyond distortion, their reality being what many people cannot understand and will only understand once reading one of her books. I believe that these novela were designed to give her readers a taste of her mind, and her ideas have given us the ability to see her view and her world. One of my favorite characters of this book is Ian. Unrequited love is something that people experience at least once in their lifetime and in the beginning in the novel it is evident that this happens to Ian. I love the fact Kaeleigh realizes her love for him because she really doesn't associate herself with anyone else but him. Ian is the type of guy who is what every girl would defintely go for. Humble, not egotistical at all. Their relationship is genuine. Thumbs up for Ellen Hopkins.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne have a seemingly perfect life; their father is one of the most revered judges in California, and their mother is running in the election for congress. However, things are not as "perfect" as they may seem. "Perfect on the outside, but behind the Norman Rockwell facades, each holds its secrets. Dark, untellable. Practically unbelievable." Kaeleigh and Raeanne are mirror image twins and complete opposites; although, one aspect they have in common is their urge to be noticed by their parents. Raeanne longs for the love of her father, though he gives all his love to Kaeleigh. Kaeleigh aspires to be noticed by her mother, who is never home long enough between campaigns. Their father, Raymond Gardella, also seeks the love of his estranged wife, but when she rejects him, he moves on to someone that reminds him of her, their daughter Kaeleigh. Ellen Hopkins delves into the world of an abused child and isn't afraid to be explicit at times. This novel is a great read with a shocking twist at the end that no one could possibly see coming.
Zomely More than 1 year ago
Identical is not only my favorite book by Ellen Hopkins (who is also my favorite author) but it's also one of my favorite books of all time. The way it's written is so gripping, every sentence has you dying to find out what's going to happen next. Although it's not much of an action thriller, Identical keeps you on the edge of your seat with it's twists and turns. Even though the plot is a bit complex, Hopkins makes it clear to see what she's trying to say with her images of metaphors and similes, her symbols and hidden messages. One of my favorite things about Identical is that it's written in free lance poetry so that the story is rhythmical in a subtle way, beautiful and captivating like poetry, yet comprehensible enough for readers who are used to novels to understand. Identical has a dazzling charm to it; it's pages allure readers to continue the book. It's very easy to relate to, no matter who you are. It has memorable character, unforgettable scenes and an unexpected and unbelievable ending. I give you my full recommendation, you won't even notice the 565 pages. ; )
imawesomeeeeeeeeeee More than 1 year ago
I am 13 years old and this is my second favorite Ellen Hopkins book. My favorite is Burned. All of her books are page turners. I never want to put down the book! I definitely recommend all of her books.
Dana_W More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by this author. I can say now that it will not be my last. Her treatment of difficult teenage experiences is exceptional. (Mental illness, drug abuse, sexual abuse, sexual promiscuity, rivalry, first love...the list keeps going.) I will probably re-read this book at some point, as it was that engaging. It kept me up late reading and every break I had at the bookstore, I was back there in the break room turning pages. All I can say is wow. Buy this book today. For the younger person, there is some language parents may find objectionable, and the content may not be for younger kids. It is mature subject matter, but with parental guidance, 15 and up should be okay. Again, I think this book illustrates some really tough issues teens have to deal with today. It is engaging and worth the read. I particularly liked the element that dealt with drug abuse going badly. The book lets you see there are consequences. Read it today.
Courtney6 More than 1 year ago
I don't normally read books like this. But one of my friends has read Ellen Hopkins books and said they are really good. I started reading her books by reading Impulse, which I ended up loving! So I decided I would read Identical because it sounded really good. It wasn't just really good. This book made me think about a lot of things that are happening to people. The two teens (twin sisters) in this book have a unforgettable story. I never wanted to put it down. There is a big twist at the end that surprised me a lot! I was totally shocked at was happened! Ellen Hopkins books are really good, and I recommend it to any teen.
J.R._BookWorm More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much! I could't put it down for a miunute.
The books about twins girls, who are going throught a hard time in their lives. Durgs, bingging, cutting, are all parts of this book.
I coulnd't beilvie the ending!!!! The end was a shock!!! It caught me off guard!
Go read it. If you have doughts about it take my advice, GO READ IT!!!!!
Megan_Wilson More than 1 year ago
Identical is the story of twin sisters Kaeleigh and Raeanne. Kaeleigh is ms. goody too shoes and Raeanne is hard edge. Their mother is a politican meaning she is always gone and their dad is a business man by day, drunk by night. To make matters worse Kaeleigh has a big secret, so big that if anyone found out her mom's career would be ruined and so would her family's lives. Her father sexually abuses her. To top it all off, Raeanne is jealous. She wishes that her dad cared as much and paid as much attention to her as he does to Kaeleigh.

As with all Ellen Hopkins's books there is drug use and sexual encounters. In this case it's Raeanne who sneaks into the medicine cabinet while her dad is out cold and slips two of his Oxycontin and a swig of Wild Turkey.

The ending was a total shock. I didn't see it coming at all. Well, I can't say that because I had the ending spoiled for me by a classmate who was talking about the book to a friend and spoke rather loudly. However even knowing the ending the manner in which it was presented was shocking to me.

I love all of the Ellen Hopkins books and it's always hard for me to say which is my favorite, but this one is definitely around the top of the list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ellen Hopkins Unique Writing Style Has Always Intrigued Me. INDENTICAL Is By Far One Of My Favorite Books. Is Just So "Different" And More Interesting From Anything Ive Ever Read. Yes, It's Disturbing In Some Parts, But That's Life & Believe It Or Not Things Like This Do Happen. I Recomend This Book To Teen Girls, And Their Mothers. The Ending Will Make You Litteraly Say "WHAT?!" Out Loud. Its Just A Great Book !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She did it again u have to read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Content is for the mature reader
Devan Robidoux More than 1 year ago
This book was an amazing emotional deep book.
LinaLove7995 More than 1 year ago
this book was given to me for an independent reading project in 10th grade english. worth the read but disturbing. with drugs, sex, rape, and other scandals wrapped into one book you should think carefully before buying.
lil-miss-alisha More than 1 year ago
This story is about twins named Kaeleigh and Raeanne. They are total opposites but look exactly the same. Kaeleigh is the quiet, doesn't want attention' type. Raeanne is the sexualy active drugy. Kaeleigh gets raped almost everynight by her alcoholic father. As far as their mom, she is out of the picture. Through out the book an accident is repeatedly brought up. Some DUI accident that took a life and made their mother go away and run for congress. A boy Ian is greatly in love with Kaeleigh and would do anything for her but she keeps him out of the loop. Raeanne is involved with Ty and Mike, but she uses them to get drugs. There's a really crazy plot twist and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
LolaSW More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. The ending surprised me and made me rethink some of what happened through out the story. I highly recomend this book to anyone looking for a well written, and down to earth story.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ellen Hopkins does it again! Another page-turning book by this amazing author!

This is a story filled with drugs, promiscuity, and sexual abuse. Not for those that are easily offended or may have issues with the content. That being said, if you can handle the mature content, the book surely will not disappoint.

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins. But beyond the external comparison, internally Kaeleigh and Raeanne are as different as night and day. One twin is the apple of their father's eye. The other twin wonders why her father doesn't love her the same way.

One twin dares to defy their father's rules. Running around with the wrong crowd. Toking up during school hours. Trading sex for favors.

The other twin is the goody-two-shoes. Gets great grades. Is the lead in the high school musical. Has a great guy that loves her.

How could the two girls be so different? It all stems back to "the accident." No one will talk about what happened the night their father drank too much and caused the fatal accident. But ever since that night, things have been far from perfect.

Their mother has basically abandoned the family with ambitions of running for Congress. But could it be she's running from them? Their father forbids any of them to speak to his parents. A secret from his past never to be revealed, at least by him. And his love for one of the girls. A love that no father should share with his own child.

Keeping everything to themselves, the girls are on a course for self-destruction. Somehow, they must come to terms with everything since the accident, and possibly trust those that want to help them. But the secrets can't be revealed to outsiders, can they?

Ms. Hopkins tells her story beautifully. Weaving between sisters, she uses the same key words to blend the thoughts of the two together. Ms. Hopkins writes in free verse. At first the pages may not look like much, but upon reading the words written in the designs, the story unfolds and the pictures the words create give more meaning behind the thoughts. The story builds to a powerful crescendo and the ending comes as a surprise as the inner workings of the two girls are revealed.

Don't let the length of this book put you off. It's an addicting read that will find you thinking to yourself, "just one more page." Before you know it, the story has drawn you in and you are hooked until the final page. Ms. Hopkins' is a great author for those teens that are hesitant or resistant to reading. The story moves quickly, and the topics are those that most authors would be afraid to broach. She speaks honestly and openly to teens, who may come away that much more aware of the world that surrounds them.
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