Sandy 's Reviews > Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
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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 for the ride must be prepared to share her anguish.

Much of Wheeze’s anger concerns her twin sister, Caroline, who seems unintentionally to steal the spotlight. Feeling overlooked, inadequate, and ordinary by comparison, Wheeze seethes with resentment and sometimes lashes out at Caroline and at those who admire and coddle her. Although I initially felt impatient with Wheeze’s persistent complaints, I forced myself to re-examine the “Bobbsey Twins” mythology which in my childhood had shaped my notions of life as a twin and I found deep within myself some empathy and compassion for Sara Louise. While life seems (figuratively) to drop gifts into the lap of Caroline — financial support, a top-notch music education, and fame as a singer — Wheeze struggles to find her way in the world.

The story is complicated by the vagaries of Wheeze’s emotional life. She zigzags her way through an attraction to an “older” man, the dementia of her grandmother, ambiguous feelings for a childhood friend, and ambivalence about her own future. Finally, inspired by a few facts about her mother’s youth, she decides to leave her island home to pursue a dream of her own. Sara Louise’s dream evades her, though, as was often the case for women following the Second World War, but her determination and resilience bring her to a place where she finds contentment, a sense of purpose, and a family of her own.

This book, understandably, won several awards for author Katherine Paterson, including the Newbery Medal in 1981. This is a story which provides many topics which could be pondered and discussed by school-age youth and adults alike. The reason for a middle-of-the-road three-star rating is that the conclusion seems, some 35 years after publication, too simplistic for our time. While many of the issues raised in this story are timeless, I doubt that many young people in our current global, digitalized community would either relate to Sara Louise’s life or have the opportunity or the desire to make the kinds of decisions which satisfied her.
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Reading Progress

June 27, 2017 – Started Reading
June 27, 2017 – Shelved
June 27, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
June 27, 2017 – Shelved as: author-female
June 27, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction-ya
June 27, 2017 – Shelved as: prizewinner-newbery
June 29, 2017 –
72.0%
June 30, 2017 – Shelved as: lit-bday-october
June 30, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017-read
June 30, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction-historical
June 30, 2017 – Shelved as: source-avrl-cd
June 30, 2017 – Finished Reading

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