Najela from Brave New Adventure is back with one last guest review for Psychtember! This time she's reviewing Identical by Ellen Hopkins.
Summary: Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins trying to live in the abusive house of their parents. Their father is a district attorney and he has turned his attention to Kaeleigh while their mother is absent. Raeanne has turned to drugs and alcohol and men to get the love she can't get from their father. An accident that happened years ago is starting to take it's toll on the sisters, but with their Raeanne spiraling out of control, can Kaeleigh help her sister take control of her life before it's too late? Or will both sisters hit rock bottom with no way out?
Likes: This novel was chilling, the amount of tragedy these "girls" endured. Had this story been in another format, like a straight prose novel, it would have been heavy handed and overwhelming, but Hopkins expertise with verse serves the novel well. The brevity of the verses serves the novel well and allows for the twist to be woven in seamlessly. I honestly didn't see the twist coming, but when you do get to that point, you see all the subtle hints Hopkins drops along the way. I've read quite a bit of Hopkins novel and this one is by far one of my favorites.
Psychological Aspect: The psychological aspect of this story is done so well that you don't see the twist coming. When you get the twist it doesn't come off as a gimmick, but something that you could honestly see happening. I'm trying not to give any spoilers, but the psychology behind this story is fascinating. If you read this story, I urge you to look up the disorder that one of the sisters (again, no spoilers) has and tell me that you didn't see that twist coming. I think I've said too much already. Seriously go read it.
Writing Tip: There are several ways a story can deal with a mental illness. It can something that is a known illness and newly diagnosed with people learning how to manage it. It can be something that the character has known for a while and is just dealing with it. Or it can be unknown, as in the case with Identical where a character is dealing with the symptoms of a disorder without being diagnosed. If you are going to write about a charcter dealing with any type of illness, you'll have to determine how far they are into the illness. That'll determine how much you should emphasize this. Here's a fabulous post for more advice on how to write about a mental illness. http://atapestryofwords.blogspot.ca/2012/09/guest-post-how-much-should-you.html
Another Book to Read: Any Ellen Hopkins book!
Najela is a graduate from UC Riverside with a dual degree in
Psychology and Creative Writing and finally making the most of both
degrees. She works with kids and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree
in Exceptional Student Education. She is also working on several
writing projects including a Beauty and the Beast retelling webcomic coming in late October 2012. You can follow her at her website or her tumblr.
I'm glad to hear you were impressed with Identical, Najela — thanks for sharing your thoughts!