Becky's Reviews > Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
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's review
Apr 23, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: children-and-ya
Recommended for: anyone
Read in April, 2008

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 doesn't have much of a plot, but the characters are so realistic and balanced that you do care about what happens to them. The Chesapeake Bay setting is finely drawn, and the descriptions of oyster culling and crab netting are interesting -- and might make you hungry.

The book's emotional achievements are great. Jacob Have I Loved accomplishes subtly what so many other YA books shove down the reader's throat -- sibling rivalry, the uncertainty of first love, the frustration and excitement of figuring out who you are & where you might want to go in life -- all of this and more are presented with just enough drama to make them interesting, but never so much that you feel you're reading anything less than a Newbery winner.

The book also reminded me of one of my favorite books -- Madeleine L'Engel's A Ring of Endless Light, for a few shared themes, most notably sibling rivalry, the role of religion, and first love, not to mention a very similar setting.

I highly recommend Jacob Have I Loved. It's a little gem that I wish I'd read sooner, and will probably reread in the future.
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Sheryl Tribble A Ring of Endless Light was a Newbery Honor book that year -- the judges must've appreciated the shared themes you pointed out!

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