What I Was Reading: Identical by Ellen Hopkins
“Kaleighand Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family — on the surface. But beneath the façade, each sister has her own dark secret.” What Moves I Notice the Author Making:
- The use of free verse to segment thoughts on the page, drawing a fine line between the twin protagonists.
- A mirror is used as an opposite, physically identical, but polar opposites in terms of characterization.
- This is an interesting introduction to a character, as Raeanne is introducing not just herself, but her identical twin sister at the same time. The character tells us who she is and isn’t, all while she is referring to her sister.
- The left side of the page reflects the emotional side of the characters, while the right side refers to their concrete appearances.
- The verse allows a high degree of freedom and this is captured through the narration which lets us inside of Raeanne’s innermost thoughts and feelings.
- The page can be read as two different poems:
◦ First, reading every word of the page. This leads to the most natural revelation of character.
◦ Second, reading only the words on the left side. This reading describes a more direct approach to how Raeanne views her relationship with her sister and her pondering on if they share an identity.
Opportunities for Writers:
- Utilize free verse to incorporate more than one voice or line of thought on the same page. This can allow a more natural flow without confusing the reading.
- Experiment with using line breaks to create a poem inside of a poem.
- Trying doublespeak, obscuring the meaning or adding an element of reversal onto their words.
- Segment the emotional and physical aspects of the poem to different places on the page.
- Having one character speak for another, revealing more about themselves through this description (in a manner reminiscent of dramatic monologue)
- Stream of consciousness narration
About the author: Andrew McLean is a grade 6 teacher at Millidgeville North School and a recent graduate of the BEd program at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton campus. Andrew loves fantasy, history and poetry, particularly those that are accompanied by artwork. He strongly advocates for introducing readers to a wide variety of texts that can make reading less intimidating. He also hopes that more classrooms will continue to promote comics, graphic novels, and manga as valid additions to their libraries.