Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book Review: IDENTICAL

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Ellen Hopkins

On the surface they seem like a perfect family. Sixteen-year-old Raeanne and Kaeleigh are identical twins, mirror images of each other. Their father is a highly respected district court judge, their mother, a high-profile politician. The girls are carefully watched over by their possessive intense father. He tells them what to eat, what wear, who they can hang around with. In the Gardella family image is everything. All that exterior polish is hiding a truly filthy secret. When the girls were young the Gardella family was involved in a serious car accident. Daddy was driving (perhaps under the influence) and Mommy was injured (with a slow and painful recovery.) After the accident their mother and father drifted apart. Their father buried himself in a grave of alcohol and oxycontin. Their mother hid inside her career. But their father came to nine-year-old Kaeleigh in the night, begging for the kind of love a father should never take from a daughter. Meanwhile Raeanne watched, jealous that he didn't choose her. She didn't understand that what he was doing was evil. It completely distorts her vision of what real love is. Raeanne finds her escape in drugs and inappropriate men who use and abuse her. Kaeleigh internalizes her role as a surrogate lover for her father with rampant self abuse. She's into purging and cutting. Both girls feel completely incapable of giving or receiving any healthy normal form of love. Ellen Hopkins is no stranger to tackling difficult issues with grace and gritty realism. The unexpected and somewhat terrifying twist of IDENTICAL make it, perhaps, her best book yet. Ellen's legions of loyal fans are sure to rejoice in this latest triumphant novel in verse. IDENTICAL can be found in bookstores tomorrow.

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