29 August 2014

Jacob Have I Loved: 1981 Newbery Award Winner

In March of 2014, I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all. Want to keep track of which books I read? Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

I apologize for my long absence from blogging.  Summers are usually filled with other endeavors for me, and this summer was no different.  I barely read during summer since I lost my library card and my Kindle bit the dust, and I regret doing so, but now that the school year is upon us, I am trying to make up for lost time.  I have found my library card, but must wait to replace my Kindle.  Therefore, I will be reading only print books.  

Cover of the book - used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause
Sara Louise Bradshaw: Behind Her Sister's Shadow

"I kept wondering ever since you came.  Why would a woman like you, who could have anything she wanted, come to a place like this?  Now I understand."

Elder by just a few minutes, Sara Louise Bradshaw, nicknamed Wheeze, lives in the shadow of her more delicate sister Caroline.  Growing up with her family on small fictional Rass Island in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay during the turbulence of the Great Depression and World War Two, Louise feels robbed by her younger twin, who is gifted in music and is considered more feminine and beautiful.  Caroline steals Louise's name, her friends, her belongings, her family's affection, even her very hopes.  Louise longs to be a waterman like her father and prays to become a boy so she can escape her sister's personality.  What surprises her, however, is that her dreams and prayers do not sustain the woman she is becoming and that leaving the island of her birth may be the only way to finding herself.

I first read Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson as a seventh grader in my English class.  It was one of the books that shaped my childhood.  I could identify with Louise's struggle to find herself, as well as with the feeling over being overshadowed by others.  As the eldest child in my family, the idea that a younger sibling's personality could overshadow an elder one's was something I could relate to, as I often felt the same way with my younger siblings growing up.  Sibling rivalry was a big deal to me, as it was to Louise, and I could feel her frustrations.

As I read this book as an adult, I find that it still resonates with me.  Since this was written from an adult looking back on her childhood, it reads well enough for adults to enjoy it.  Like Louise, I have been able to look back at the journey to adulthood so far as one that was filled with trials, but also with tribulations.  She is confident as she looks back over the story that had she not have had her twin sister and her overshadowing personality, she may not have come into her own as an adult.

There is a religious aspect to this book.  The story gets its title from a verse in the Bible where God says "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."  Like the elder twin of Isaac, Louise feels unloved and unwanted as she compares herself to the favored, younger twin.  The story weaves itself around this tale of old, as Louise and Caroline's devout grandmother taunts the older girl with the verse.  It takes Louise years to feel wanted and loved again, and it is only when she releases herself that she feels this.

This book is a very well written story, and anyone who can remember what it felt like to be an outsider even in one's own home will probably enjoy this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are subject to deletion if they are inappropriate or deemed as spam. So please think carefully. I have the right to delete comments, as I am the owner of this blog.