Earlier this year, Bookworm and I read The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson, and we both really liked it.
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So, I decided to read more of her books, and the first one I chose was Jacob Have I Loved because I remember a co-worker saying that title in a dreamy voice, you know, like when a book is so good that you find yourself totally immersed in it? That’s what happened to me when I read Jacob Have I Loved.
Luckily, this is also one of the books we’ll be covering in our co-op class this fall, so reading it served two purposes.
The book, which won a John Newberry Medal, takes place on a small island on the Eastern coast of the United States during the early 1940s. The story follows two twin sisters, Louise and Caroline, who couldn’t be more different. Louise is a tom boy who likes to help her father with his crab fishing business, and Caroline is a beautiful girl who has a beautiful voice to match. Louise is strong and hardy while Caroline has always been frail. Caroline was the weaker of the two and had many medical issues when she was a baby. Louise feels, perhaps rightly so, that Caroline always gets more attention.
Louise lets herself be pushed to the background, outside of Caroline’s lime light, but bitterness grows in her to the point that she even ponders (though just theoretically), killing her sister.
Louise’s good friend, Call, is with her on all of her adventures, including meeting the newest island’s resident, The Captain, who had been born and raised on the island but then had left for decades and had only just returned. Louise, Call and The Captain develop an unexpected friendship until Caroline inserts herself. Then Louise quietly departs the group.
While Louise is frequently nursing her anger and resentment toward her sister, her grandmother only adds fuel to the fire, at one point whispering to Louise, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. . .”, which gives the book its title.
This book is about the turmoil of growing up, especially when you feel like you don’t belong or you aren’t good enough. I felt Louise’s angst throughout the book, and she had my sympathy even if I often felt like she was causing her own problems by not embracing who she truly is.
And, because I’ve loved two of Katherine Patterson’s books, when I’m done reading all of the books for the co-op, I plan to read more of her books.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.