by Ellen Hopkins


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Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Sixteen-year-old identical twins must come to terms with their darkest secrets in this poignant tour de force from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Do twins begin in the womb?
Or in a better place?

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family — on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites — and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept — from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is — who?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416950059
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 08/26/2008
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 494,244
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x 1.15(d)
Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen young adult novels, as well as the adult novels Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative. Visit her at and on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsLit.

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.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to Identical by Ellen Hopkins


Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella, identical twins, live in a posh California neighborhood. Their father is a well-known district court judge and their mother a politician. On the surface they are the perfect American family, but beneath the façade lies a damaged family. Raeanne is the aggressive twin, the one who is sexually promiscuous—giving sex in return for drugs; she craves sexual attention from anyone, including her father. Kaeleigh is the quiet one, the one most like her mother, and the victim of her father’s sexual advances. Haunted by this, Kaeleigh has difficulty letting any boy close and deals with her pain by cutting. Torn apart by a tragic event, the twins’ parents hardly speak. Their mother spends her time on the campaign trail; their father lives at home where he drinks, abuses Oxycontin, and controls his daughters’ every move—from the clothes they wear to the places they go. Both girls have an eating disorder, and as they spiral into more dangerous depths, the story takes a surprising twist. One twin will need to step up. But who?


What would it feel like to harbor a secret that could hurt another person should it be revealed?

How might you support a friend who had a family secret that would send one of his/her family members to jail?

What responsibility do we have to friends who may be abused by other friends or family members?


In what ways are Raeanne and Kaeleigh similar? How are they different?

Raeanne and Kaeleigh are drawn to different kinds of boys. How are the boys different, and why do the girls connect with them?

Who is Greta Sorenson, and what role does she play in Kaeleigh’s life?

Raeanne and Kaeleigh have different reactions to their mother’s absence. Explain.

Raeanne tells herself that having sex makes her powerful. Would you agree?

The twin’s father is a district judge. On the surface he appears to be a strong person; however, underneath he is weak. What accounts for his fear and insecurity?

Characterize the twin’s mother. How has she changed since the accident?

Raeanne and Kaeleigh do not seem close. In fact, communication between them is virtually nonexistent. Explain how this lack of dialogue makes sense at the end of the story. Is it more difficult for readers to keep the girls “separate” toward the end of the story? If so, why might that be?

Ian saves Raeanne and Kaeleigh from further sexual abuse by Ty. How might he have known where Ty lived and that the twins might be there?

Raeanne seems to thrive off sexual encounters, and Kaeleigh is afraid of sexual intimacy. Given what you know about their relationship with their father, what might account for their opposite reactions?

How does Raeanne meet her grandfather, and what does she learn from him? If there were a sequel to the story, what might Raeanne’s or Kaeleigh’s relationship with him be like?

Why does the girls’ grandmother call, and why is their father so angry with his own mother?

Both girls are confused by the meaning of love. Kaeleigh comments, “But how do I give what has always been taken”, and later she says, “love is always defined by ulterior motive”. How do these comments illustrate her confusion? What experiences will the girls need in order to understand healthy relationships?

Hopkins places clues to a family tragedy throughout the story. By story’s end, the reader knows about an accident that has driven the family apart and understands events in the father’s childhood that accounts for his sexual advances on his own daughter. Explain the family tragedy and the emotional and psychological damage that is passed down from generation to generation.

Hopkins moves the story forward with the use of flashback. Through flashback, readers learn about the father’s attraction to Kaeleigh and Raeanne’s disappointment as a child that her father didn’t choose her. Flashback is also used to inform the reader about another family tragedy. If Hopkins had not used flashback, how else might she have conveyed the horror of the girls’ childhood? Would another technique have been as effective? Explain.

What can readers learn about the cycle of abuse that runs through three generations, beginning with the grandmother’s alcoholism, the father’s childhood abuse, his treatment of his daughters, and their emotional state? Without treatment, what kind of relationships might each girl maintain later in life?


Research the abuse of prescription drugs. What prescription drugs are most commonly abused and why? Identify popular prescription drug and alcohol combinations that are potentially lethal. Develop a podcast on the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol.

Choose one of the twins and develop an argument that she has better coping skills than her sister.

Research the characteristics and causes of eating disorders, as well as their treatments, and present your findings using any appropriate media (PowerPoint, wiki, website, blog, etc).

Personal tragedy can strain family relationships. Research resources for dealing with a family tragedy and develop a brochure or website on resources available to families who experience a family crisis.

Guide prepared by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

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Identical 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 710 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.
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.
JLeighG More than 1 year ago
Trigger warning: Eating disorders, sexual assault by a parent, drug abuse, self-harm, attempted suicide Identical is a young adult book about pain and how people cope with it. Told in alternating sections of two twin sister’s Raeanne and Kaeleigh. It’s great to see the experiences they’ve both had affect their personalities. They both shine through as their own and it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to see much of their relationship with each other. The plot twist at the end is so unexpected that it shocked me. Ellen Hopkins did a marvelous job with this book.
Alo_m More than 1 year ago
Disturbingly good. I cried for her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my 6th Ellen Hopkins book. This one i read in two weeks and considering i work full time, am a part time student, and not a fast reader thats pretty fast! The story line is compelling and she talks about real life stuff. It is pretty graphic, i dont recommend letting even teenagers read it. Its raw and honest i love that she talks about things that are often hushed away. I recommend this and any of her books!