Monday, January 05, 2009

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Identical by Ellen Hopkins is a young adult novel written in verse. I didn’t realize this when I grabbed it at the library. I read the inside jacket flap and just grabbed it out of curiosity. Boy, am I glad I did! The basic premise is that Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins of a man who is a judge and a mother who is running for congress. And the family has a secret. Actually, the family has several secrets, layered one upon the other. The girls' stories are told in free verse, with an occasional concrete verse thrown in. The poems are often parallel in tone and voice and are literally mirrored when shifting from one sister to the other. As I read, I found what I thought were plot complications which Hopkins quite effectively ties up by the end. The closer to the conclusion, the more complicated things become as the family gradually unravels due to the secrets that are beginning to come out. The main secret is an obvious one and has been done so many times one wonders what new can be said or done and yet Hopkins manages to bring something new to the table. Above all else, she communicates the confused feelings a young girl has about herself, her family, and just how dangerous it can be to hold these too many secrets inside. I would highly recommend this book to older teenagers, especially ones who say they don’t like poetry.

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