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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.


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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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kaeleigh moves in with her grandmother and actively works on recovering from her mental trauma, and things look up for her relationship with Ian as well; she also gets in contact with her grandfather. On the other hand, it doesn't seem like she'll ever have healthy relationships with her parents again, as her father has gone into private treatment and her mother is frequently away for her job, only coming home to keep up appearances and openly blaming Kaeleigh for the abuse she suffered. There's also the implication that Raeanne herself isn't completely gone...
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  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: Reread the book and you'll notice a lot of things that hint toward Kaeleigh and Raeanne being the same person.
    • Raeanne complains that people constantly mix her and Kaeleigh up since they're identical twins that share a wardrobe, but if you read closely, the only instances of this are people confusing Raeanne for Kaeleigh; the reverse never happens.
    • When Raeanne is the narrator, she is never addressed by name, and despite her seemingly sharing several scenes with her twin, Kaeleigh never seems to directly speak to Raeanne either.
    • The respective rumors about Kaeleigh and Raeanne sleeping around. Raeanne doesn't pay them much mind, but Kaeleigh doesn't understand where the rumors are coming from because she very deliberately isn't sleeping around.
    • Kaeleigh at one point mentions a funeral that she doesn't want to think about, and there are a few mentions of an "accident" in the family's past.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mr. Gardella's "reason" for his alcoholism and other issues in the book.
  • Friends with Benefits: The sort of relationship Mick and Raeanne have. It ends rather abruptly when Mick tries to rape Raeanne and Raeanne responds by driving his truck off and leaving him in the middle of nowhere with his pants down.
  • I Have This Friend...: How Kaeleigh asks a doctor about dissociative identity disorder, although the doctor in question sees through it almost immediately.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Mick tries to use this on Raeanne when he is trying to rape her.
  • One-Word Title
  • Parental Incest: Kaeleigh is being sexually abused by her father.
  • 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.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Kaeleigh and Raeanne are named for their parents Kay and Ray.
  • Twin Switch: Raeanne passes herself off as Kaeleigh a couple of times. Subverted; it isn't really a Twin Switch since Raeanne is simply another personality of Kaeleigh.

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