Yakety Yaks's Reviews > Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed-by-gracie

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 in Chesapeake Bay, Caroline seems to do nothing but take from Louise: their parents’ love, Louise’s chances for an education, her dreams for the future. They have spent their lives entwined — sleeping in the same room, eating at the same table, learning in the same classroom — and yet somehow nothing can bring them together. Louise’s only hope lies in seeking a place for herself beyond the stretch of Rass’s shores and her sister’s shadow. What will it take for her to break free?

The relationship with Caroline is complicated, layered, and gorgeous. Don’t get me wrong, the favorite twin is a horrible human being, and wonderfully easy to hate. But reading it as adult made me wonder how much of Caroline’s terrible behavior is slightly misrepresented by Louise’s bitterness and jealousy. Louise is so committed to the fact that everyone loves Caroline more than herself and in a way, almost ensures that. I certainly believe that is the case with Call.

This book is incredibly atmospheric. To the degree that the small island of Rass becomes a character, forcing its inhabitants to make decisions and come to terms with themselves. In the story, the island is losing a battle with the ocean, quickly becoming too small. Simultaneously, Lousie begins to realize that her family, her island, her home is not where she belongs. She fights the feeling of growing up, in the same way that the inhabitants of Rass board up their windows and rebuild after tumultuous storms, fighting back the ocean. But each force is unrelenting.

The best part of the book, however is her friendship with the Captain. By turns compelling, endearing, and slightly disturbing Paterson brings her readers on the emotional roller coaster of a sexual awakening. Reading the book at 14, much of this went over my head at the time, but now as an adult, I appreciate the delicacy and reverence with which she writes. Louise becomes conflicted in her relationship with the Captain, suddenly wrestling with feelings and urges that she does not understand. I love that the Captain does not reciprocate any of these adolescent fantasies. He is simply an unflappable, asexual friend to her.

Jacob Have I Loved won the 1981 Newberry Award and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. It is one of the most honest, beautiful, and daring portrayals of adolescence and coming of age that I have ever read.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 6, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 13, 2012 – Shelved
May 13, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed-by-gracie

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