Ellen Hopkins's Identical is a verse novel which tells the stories of identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella, the 16-year-old daughters of a district court judge, and a candidate for the United States' House of Representatives. While their mother campaigns for the House position, Kaeleigh and Raeanne are left in the care of their alcoholic father and have to deal with maintaining the family's "perfect" appearance while struggling with the secrets that tore them apart.
This book provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Mr. Gardella is sexually abusing Kaeleigh, and Mrs. Gardella is far more focused on her career than her family.
- The Alcoholic: Mr. Gardella. Also his mother, though when she appears at the end of the book, she is in the twelve-step program and on her way to recovery.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Raeanne with Mick and Ty.
- Alpha Bitch: Madison.
- Always Identical Twins
- Angsty Surviving Twin
- Auto Erotica: Mick and Raeanne.
- Broken Bird: Kaeleigh and Raeanne.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Ian toward Kaeleigh. While Kaeleigh reciprocates his feelings for her, she is unable to open up to him about her father's sexual abuse, which stops her from getting involved with him.
- Freudian Excuse: Mr. Gardella's "reason" for his alcoholism and other issues in the book.
- "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Mick pulls this on Raeanne while trying to rape her.
- Parental Incest
- Parental Neglect: Kaeleigh and Raeanne's mother, whose political career keeps her on the road most of the time. When she is home, she isn't very attentive to her daughters. Nothing has changed with her in the end; she continues to stay away from home as much as possible, and although she now knows that Kaeleigh was being abused by her father, her reaction is to blame Kaeleigh for not telling anyone.
- Self-Harm: Kaeleigh is a cutter and a binge eater, while Raeanne suffers from bulimia.
- Shower of Angst: Kaeleigh has one, during which she cuts herself for the first time.
- Split Personality: The end of the novel reveals that Raeanne died in a car accident several years earlier, and that the subsequent sexual abuse visited on Kaeleigh by her father caused her to develop Raeanne as a separate personality in order to live out her repressed sexual desires.
- Split Personality Merge: When the truth about Raeanne's death comes out.
- Twin Theme Naming: Kaeleigh and Raeanne are named for their parents Kay and Ray.
- Twin Switch: Raeanne passes herself off as Kaeleigh a couple of times. It isn't really a Twin Switch since Raeanne is simply another personality of Kaeleigh.