52 Book Challenge: Identical by Ellen Hopkins

1 May

Identical

{Proceed with caution, mid-level spoilers all up in this bitch}

[Trigger Warning for incest, sexual abuse, eating disorders and self-harm. I don’t mess around when it comes to triggers, this book deals with these subjects in great detail.]

Usually when we think about our favorite books, the ones we like the most, we think of how much we enjoyed reading them. But “being fun to read” is not a requirement for a good book. However, it is a rare book that can be brutally uncomfortable and awful to read but still tell a story that is meaningful. Identical falls into the later category. If you read Hopeless, one of 2013′s darlings, think back to the scene in Hope’s childhood bedroom: take that feeling, magnify it, and imagine an entire book playing out with that amount of horror and tension.

Identical tells the story of two twin girls, Kaeleigh and Raeanne. They were in a horrific car accident with their parents when they were younger, and it shattered their mother both physically and mentally. She basically abandoned her family to start a political career, and the father… did not take being lonely well. He took all of the misplaced affection and heaped it onto one of the twins, Kaeleigh, and what started out as innocently favoring one child over another turned into something very, very dark. Kaeleigh has been abused for as long as she can remember. Her sister, Raeanne, is… jealous. Not of the harm, but of the attention. She feels that no one has ever loved her, and turns to boys at school instead.

The twins are mirror images. Kaeleigh binges in an attempt to make herself unattractive and fill a hole inside of her. Raeanne purges to make herself beautiful. Kaeleigh is perfectly chaste, even though a boy at school has loved her since they were children and she loves him back. Raeanne sleeps with every man in her path, and none of them care about her at all. Kaeleigh self-harms. Raeanne does many, many drugs. There’s pretty much every trigger you can think of in this book, and if it was not for the gorgeous, mournfully lyrical writing it would be unreadable.

The structure of this book is unique, to say the least. Much of it is done as poetry, and in places some of the twins’ stories are literally mirrored: the most memorable one when their trains of though meet to form a heart on the page. It is beautiful and horrible and I will totally admit that I cried. I mean, I know every single review of a book on Goodreads is all “ahh this made me cry FOR REAL” but no I seriously cried at parts of Identical. It’s heartbreaking. And reading it is almost like punishment–you know it’s going to get worse but it is so damn well written and gorgeous and you also want to know that everything will be okay in the end.

If you are prepared for the upheaval of your soul and a look into the dark, dark corners of the human mind… well, you might not want to read this book anyway, because it hurts. But it made SUCH an impact on me. It is a truly powerful story. And man, the ending. Congrats, Ellen Hopkins, you took my breath away.

Rating

Identical Book 28

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

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