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Jacob Have I Loved

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  29,712 ratings  ·  1,895 reviews

The remarkable Newbery-winning classic about a painful sibling rivalry, and one sister’s struggle to make her own way.  

"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

Kindle Edition, 260 pages
Published (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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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  29,712 ratings  ·  1,895 reviews

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Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I do love Katherine Paterson. I don't really know what to make of this book. I don't know if I have seen a main character who seems to know herself in some ways and be so lost in others. She is crippled by the shadow of her talented twin sister. She is also a tom boy and wants to be able to do a man's job.

I guess after going through this, I don't really know what the point was and what it's trying to share with us. It does turn out ok for Wheeze and I don't know. I did love that it takes place
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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.
Jul 04, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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.
Rebecca McNutt
From the author of the wonderfully imaginative Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob I Have Loved, targeted at older readers, is a really profound and impressive story about the futility of sibling rivalry and the importance of family unity.
I read this when I was in middle school, drawn to it because it has a main character with my name and because it takes place in my state. I expected Paterson to really build the Chesapeake setting but never felt any sense of that atmosphere. However, ultimately, the story moves at a glacial pace, with not a speck of drama to drive the plot, and the main characters are flat and boring. I felt no connection to any of it. It's a pity that Paterson didn't do more as I think the premise and setting h ...more
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.

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
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Erin Casey
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
John Hsu
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This story was, for me, a painful journey through adolescence with Sara Louise (Wheeze) Bradshaw. The teen years are, for some, a time of confusion, heartache, anger, and bewilderment. Certainly this is the case for Sara Louise. The story is packed with a variety of personalities, issues, and emotions and Wheeze is a sensitive and perceptive girl who feels and thinks deeply. Eventually, she manages to lurch her way through many troubling situations into adulthood, but the reader who goes along f ...more
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Louise Bradshaw is a teenager when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Her family ekes out a tough existence fishing on Chesapeake Bay, in a desolate, windswept environment. The fishing consists of crab collecting in one season, oyster harvesting in the other. The work is hard, but consistent, and although it does not pay well, there is a steady income. The small population of Rass Island is doggedly Methodist, with strict rules for living, and strong censure for any form of devi ...more
Rachel M
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, teen
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
Kellyn Roth
I didn't write a full review, but this is someone else's which is excellent & sums up my thoughts:

I read this book a long time ago, so I can't remember all the deets ... but! I do remember I thought it was sort of ... weird? And pointless. And dumb. Honestly, why do people like this book??

Here's some more stuff I remember:

-Creepy hand fascination.

Further: creepy young girl fascinated with the hands of a creepy old guy who could be her grandfather. So .
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sara Louise (or Wheeze) has lived in her sister's shadow from the moment Caroline was born. She doesn't feel like she's ever anything special and all she's seen as in Caroline's twin. She dreams of beauty and grandeur, but always compares herself to her sister. Sara Louise was not a likable character. She had a lot of griefs and very little confidence in herself. I think that she went through a lot of things that teenagers go through, with the added problem of having a prodigy sister.
Kathleen Garber
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Yakety Yaks
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Margulis
Every sentence of this book was painful to read. A coming of age story of a girl growing up on a small Methodist island in the Chesapeake Bay. Her twin sister, Caroline, almost did not survive her birth and needed to be taken to hospital. Her mother nursed her but left Sara Louise (everyone calls her "Wheeze," a nickname that her hates) on the island drinking formula. Carolina is sunny and pretty and clean whereas Sara Louise, who earns money crabbing to help pay for her sister's music lessons, ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-fiction, newberry
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
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
Minus one star for how whiny the main character is. I get it, Caroline is better than you in all ways. I usually like the underdog but she was so bratty no wonder no one on the island cared.

Plus one star for addressing hormones and puberty in teen girls.
Minus that star for her sexual feelings to come from a seventy year old man's fingernails.

Minus one star for the relationship between the sisters never being resolved. Especially when Louise is a happily married mother.

Plus one star for the d
Michael Galdamez
You know those books that you read because you just can't stop... even though you can't figure out whether you even like it or not.

Yeah. This was that book.

Again, I still can't figure if I really liked it or not (that's one reason I rated it 3 Stars: right in the middle). The characters are all aggravating (except for a choice few). The story is odd and seemingly random. And the ending was extremely unsatisfactory.

Doesn't sound very good, does it?

Then why the heck was it so gripping? That's my q
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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
“To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.” 77 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?” 35 likes
More quotes…