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Jacob Have I Loved

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  22,852 ratings  ·  1,428 reviews

"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated . . ." With her grandmother's taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved.

Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her fri

Paperback, 244 pages
Published January 14th 1990 by Scholastic (first published January 1st 1980)
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Kim Bell What's your question? It's also a movie, if that helps. I know it's bad of me, as a book person, to recommend watching the movie, but sometimes it can…moreWhat's your question? It's also a movie, if that helps. I know it's bad of me, as a book person, to recommend watching the movie, but sometimes it can help you visualize the book and keep all the characters straight in your head when you read. Also, consider reading along as you listen to the audio book.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 27, 2011 Mariel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kinga (payback)
Recommended to Mariel by: Kinga
This book embarrassed me a little. It embarrassed me more than a little. I'm no stranger to self pity and talking myself into not doing things.

It is also embarrassing because it is cloying and whiney.

Louise (nicknamed Wheeze) slumps in the shadowed footsteps of her twin sister, Caroline. Caroline is very clever. Wheeze is not a sexy nickname. She totally eliminated the competition with that strategic strategy. The fam and Caroline, as well as their whole island, love everything about Caroline, a
Oct 18, 2008 Margaret rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Die-hard Katherine Patterson fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I remember loving this book as a kid, so I picked it up the other day. I'm not exactly sure why I liked it so much, because this time around I didn't find it nearly entertaining. Also I didn't feel sorry for Louise this time around; most everything Caroline got that Louise didn't was due to Louise's inability to speak up, or because her attempts to get something for herself completely backfired due to her passive-aggressive ways of doing so.

Also, I must say, I got a little wigged out when she hu
Lines that I loved:

It would have been harder to stay away and imagine what people were staying about me than to go and face them.

How could I face a lifetime of passive waiting?

For a moment is our sorrow. Joy forever in the sky.

But to fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.

Annoyance drove out panic.

But I was not a generous person. I couldn’t afford to be. Call was my only friend. If I gave him up to the Captain, I’d have no one.

She would not fight with
Sep 11, 2014 Kathryn rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!
Shelves: young-adult
I absolutely hated this book. It doesn't even give you the satisfaction of seeing Miss Perfect Goldilocks get hers in the end (or at least, seeing her admit what a hell she made for her sister).

I really don't understand why this received the Newberry. I read it because I felt I had missed something but now I wished I hadn't. Books tend to become part of your soul and this one gave (and continues to give) me the creeps! The most depressing story I've ever read in my life.
I loved reading this book with my daughter and seeing it both through her eyes and mine, from the parent and the child's point of view. I felt the injustice of Caroline's special treatment and how it affected Sara Louise, the pain of being the unloved child, the adaptable one that's easy to ignore. I could so relate to my own life, slipping through the cracks when I wouldn't speak up for myself. At times I wanted to shake Caroline for being so selfish and taking so much away from her sister.

This book should be read without the presentiment that the heroine is going to be heroic, selfless, lovely, or even pleasant.

To judge the book based on that is to completely miss the point of this novel.

No, Sara Louise isn't a pleasant heroine. She is eaten up with neglect, bitterness, jealousy, and it's difficult to tell whether she has more self-loathing or loathing for anything or anyone who isn't herself, at least for childhood through adolescence.

With that said, it is vitally important that
Apr 23, 2008 Becky rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: children-and-ya
I read this beautifully written book in one sitting. It's the story of Louise, a young girl growing up in the shadow of her beautiful, talented twin sister. In the course of the book, Louise endures the youthful tribulations of falling in love (first with a man who's almost old enough to be her grandfather, then with a childhood friend who used to seem "second-rate" to her) and finding a place for herself doing "man's work" in the tiny, insulated island community in which she lives.

The book does
3.5/5 stars

Jacob Have I Loved is a novel by Katherine Paterson that won the 1981 Newbery Medal.

The story takes place during the early 1940s on the small, fictional island of Rass in the Chesapeake Bay. Life on the island revolves around fundamentalist religion, seasonal fishing for crabs and oysters, and the often fulfilling lives of those who "follow the water." While the men lead rugged, dangerous lives, Paterson chooses to focus on the women of the island.

Jacob Have I Loved revolves around t
I must have read this girlhood favorite a dozen times, the tears dropping onto the pages regardless of how familiar the words and storyline had become. Something about Sara Louise's intense sibling rivalry and inability to recognize her parents' love for her spoke to me, a second child who frequently felt overshadowed by my older brother. Her earnest desire for God's love amidst fear of His disapproval also reflected my search to feel God's love for me in all my messy imperfection.

20+ years have
Erin Casey
Oct 09, 2007 Erin Casey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teen girls and their parents
I highly recommend this book to teen girls and their parents. The central girl is foiled at every turn in her life by lack of money, lack of parental support, lack of beauty... and also by her overbearing and truly gifted sister. When she connects with her grandmother, listens to her and learns to let go of all these restrictions, to let go of any resentment, frustration or bitterness and to get out and do what she needs to do to live her own life, she does!

She finds peace, happiness and eventu
I read this book several times as a teen. I was drawn to the story of the two sisters. I found myself both disturbed and fascinated by the cleft between them, and nursed Sarah Louise's injustices as if they were my own. I was also captivated by the beautiful imagery and the setting along the Chesapeake Bay that was, to me, strange and fascinating.

Recently I returned to the book, reading it for the first time as an adult. It was a completely different experience. It became a story about how we pe
Rachel Crooks
Who is Sara Louise's biggest enemy?

1) Caroline, her twin sister. Sara Louise is unhappy because Caroline is so happy, so talented, so loved. The reason Sara Louise is unhappy is because Caroline was loved more than her, from birth.

2) Her parents and grandmother. They just don't love Sara Louise. They are ever trying to find ways to give Caroline more privliges, stealing what little Sara Louise has.

3) Call and the Captain. Both, in different ways, cast their ballot with Caroline, not Sara Louise.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A book of incomparable unfairness.

I am not saying every story needs to be wrapped up in clean white bows, I am saying that my 13 year old self was not prepared for the grossly overstated cruelty of life presented in this book.

I hate it.
Erin Reilly-Sanders
This book makes a great case for the importance of guided reading, as well as getting the age group right on the audience. While Sara Louise is thirteen, the themes are not really appropriate or understandable for younger kids. I was given this book as a gift (I forget at what age- maybe 11?) and hated it when I read it because I couldn't understand it. Reading it for the second time in an adolescent literature class, I loved it. The discussion and classroom questions helped focus my thoughts an ...more
John Hsu
Listened to this on audiobook, which probably made it worse because you couldn't accelerate through the miserableness of the lead character. There's some decent storytelling in here but it really comes across as a score-settling diatribe written by a self pitying girl who hated her twin's guts.

That topic could be covered winningly with real humor, perspective or at least some dramatic progression but hardly anything significant happens to the central conflict in the book. Instead, it all kinda p
Kathleen Garber
I have to say I wasn’t too sure about this book. I haven’t read any other Katherine Paterson although I did see the movie, Bridge to Terabithia. The summary just didn’t really grab me. However it wasn’t long into the book before I didn’t want to put it down. I felt pure anger towards Caroline and the parents for their treatment of Louise. I was enraged quite a few times during the book.

I liked the writing style and the story and look forward to reading more Katherine Paterson. I can see why it w
Jacob Have I Loved, winner of the 1981 Newberry Award, explores themes of sibling rivalry, jealousy, and being torn between desire and duty. All her life, Sara Louise has been overshadowed by her prettier, talented twin sister Caroline who calls her the distasteful nickname “Wheeze”. Caroline’s singing voice allows for a life filled with opportunities, but what can Louise do other than help with crabbing and oyster fishing? When a mysterious sea captain comes to the island, Sara Louise hopes tha ...more
Yakety Yaks
In keeping with Annalynn’s post about classics, I wanted to post about one of my favorite YA classics.

It isn’t often that you read a book as a teen and love it then come back to it as an adult and love it even more. This book is my own personal Catcher in the Rye. Louise gave my adolescent self a voice that I didn’t know I needed.

Synopsis ala Amazon: Louise has had enough of her twin sister. Caroline is beautiful. Caroline is talented. Caroline is better. Growing up on the small island of Rass i
Sarah Sammis
The book covers probably about a decade of time and is from the POV of an older twin sister. The thick teenage angst of this book detracts from the more interesting stories of Captain Hiram, Auntie Braxton, the dementia of the protagonist's grandmother, Call and Caroline. Until I read the last two chapters, I was going to rate this book lower but these chapters, the last one especially, give the protagonist a chance to mature and redeem herself.

"Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated."


This is the first "I'm-having-a-hard-time-putting-down" book I've had in a long time.

The story took me to a depression-hate-rage-fury-killer-instinct roller coaster ride.

I can feel Louise's despair, sadness, and lack of confidence, while her sister Caroline takes everything - and by everything I mean EVERY SINGLE GOOD THING - away from her. ( Just like how Jacob has taken everything away from Esau in the bible, hence the title and quote.)

I hate,
One day my somewhat eccentric fifth grade teacher Mrs. Gray saw me reading this book at my desk. It was probably my third time through the book, but to be honest had only read the bits that interested me. She wanted to know how I liked it. Our class had started reading "Bridge to Terebithia" that month so I think she thought I liked that work so much I wanted to read more Katherine Patterson. I didn't, I just liked the cover art and had found the sisters' story easy to relate to. I reread that b ...more
There's no use lying about it; I was deeply disappointed in this book. I absolutely loved Bridge to Terabithia, which I read about two years ago, so I had high hopes for this book. It was a small book, with a nice cover, and I liked the feeling of holding it in my hands. Basically, I would have enjoyed this book far more if I'd just held it instead of actually opening it and reading it. I started it in the car on the way up to Oklahoma City and finished it the next day. And I only really enjoyed ...more
I read this when I was little and loved it, but couldn't remember any of the details. It showed up on my student's summer reading list so I thought I'd read it again. It was just as good now as it was then. Wonderfully written, though perhaps a bit mature for 6th grade, it tells the story of a girl in the 40s growing up on an island in the Chesapeake. She's a twin, and spends the book trying to deal with being the less favored sibling, and a girl on a fishing island where there is little a girl ...more
Kressel Housman
I read this at age 14. I liked it, but didn't love it. Naturally, I identified with the lesser-loved sister, but I think Rochel/Leah would have been a better analogy than Jacob/Esau. In any case, it was fascinating to learn this was written by the author of Bridge to Terabithia, which only goes to show that authors improve with time.
I haven't read this book since high school, so I have no idea whether it would still stand the test of time. I know that from the time I got until the time I outgrew it, I read it every single year. It was one of the few books with a central female character that I could id with. It is particularly good if you are the elder child.
Thom Dunn
Apr 02, 2010 Thom Dunn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A Ponzi Scheme Have I Been Running

A Harsh Mistress Is the Moon

Along Can We All Get ?

Nada Have I Schtupped

The Flowers Have All Gone Where ?

In He Came With a Cold Yet, the Spy

With the Sea He Fell From Grace, the Sailor--Am'nt I After Tellin' Ya ?
Rebecca Egan
As soon as I finished this book I was not sure how to feel about it but the more I think about it, the more I liked it. It is a great depiction of how blind we can be in thinking that we are bound to our circumstances when we actually have far more power than we realize.

Feeling offended and slighted is a slippery, easy slope. No matter how justified we feel like we are in being offended (and we can find offense from everyone including God if we want to) we will never find peace or contentment in
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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From author's website:

People are always asking me questions I don't have answers for. One is, "When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?" The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted t
More about Katherine Paterson...

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“To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.” 69 likes
“If you could hold your nose to avoid a stink, or close your eyes to cut out a sight, why not shut off your brain to avoid a thought?” 32 likes
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