Title: The Identicals
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Year Published: 2017
Genre: Drama, Contemporary Fiction
Obtained: Public Library
Synopsis: Two twin sisters, Harper and Tabitha, split up after their parents’ divorce, one with their mother on Nantucket and the other with their father on Martha’s Vineyard, and the mistakes they make in their lives that affect both themselves, each other, and the people around them as they switch places.
When Elin Hilderbrand’s newest novel, The Identicals, debuted on June 13th, I added it to my list at the library. I was unfortunately put on a waiting list. Two months later, I finally got an email saying I could pick it up! I finally had the hottest beach read all to myself for two weeks! And, trust me, I didn’t need two weeks. It took me three days to read through it.
These twin sisters are a rush! They’re more different than you can imagine identical twins to be, probably due to the fact that they were separated during their teen years and lived with a different parent. Each twin really takes after the parent they lived with. It brings up a lot of internal questions about nature vs. nurture, but that’s a whole different thought process!
The setup of this novel was different. Rather than chapters, there are sections dedicated to Harper and Tabitha (the twins) and Tabitha’s daughter Ainsley. There are even chapters dedicated to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, two completely different islands that are only 11 miles apart.
Harper is laid back and may even appear lazy, and she has quite a history of bad decisions in her life which leads her to become a pariah on Martha’s Vineyard. Tabitha is classy and dignified, but can appear a bit haughty. She’s raising Ainsley, her teenage daughter, while living with her mother on her expansive Nantucket compound. Tragedy has befallen her and it has brought out the worst in her during her life.
I obviously favored Harper the most. She may have made some unsavory choices in her life, but she has a good heart. Tabitha is a grudge-holder, which I’m not a fan of, although I do understand her reasonings to a point. Her character just isn’t to my taste.
Harper and Tabitha had a falling out fourteen years before the start of the novel, but the reason for their failed relationship is only hinted at until nearing the end of the story. This only happens after they switch lives and walk a mile in each other’s shoes. (I know. It sounds cliche, but it’s literally the best description I could think of!) Tabitha’s daughter Ainsley is a force all her own. She starts out a spoiled, self-righteous girl who loves to party and be the popular girl This is all due to Tabitha’s parenting, or lack of parenting. Tabitha is so wrought in her grief that she treats her daughter just like her mother treated her growing up.
With Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard as the main settings in the story, Hilderbrand really does a fantastic job tying these two different islands together, making them two distinct characters in the novel. The idea that gossip travels quickly throughout each island is well thought-out and makes for some serious humor, especially when the twins switch and experience just a taste of what each other lives with. I personally have never been to either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, but Hilderbrand is very descriptive about each island. I love novels that include great locations, and a make-or-break for me is whether or not I can imagine myself in the setting.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book. I’m usually into suspenseful thrillers, something with a lot of twists and turns and action. But in the end, I realized that it was just what I needed to take a break from all that action. It’s the perfect beach read! It’s refreshing and surprising, albeit a bit predictable at times, but its predictability isn’t debilitating to the storyline.
Overall, love Love LOVED this beach read. I did manage to get down to the Jersey Shore to read it while on the beach, and that exemplified the story for me even more. I would DEFINITELY recommend this novel for anyone who loves good family drama.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Storyline: 5 stars (I really enjoyed the family drama aspect of this plot!)
Characters: 4 stars (Contains well-developed characters, but they are a bit stale)
Setting: 5 stars (Visiting both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard is now on my bucket list!)
Reading Pace: 5 stars (Front to back cover in 23 hours flat!)