Monday, November 21, 2011

Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, 1980. 244 pages. Published by Scholastic. Source: Bought.
"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 island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her friends, her mother, even her name. While everyone pampered Caroline, Wheeze (her sister's name for her) began to learn the ways of the watermen and the secrets of the island, especially of old Captain Wallace, who had mysteriously returned after fifty years. The war unexpectedly gave this independent girl a chance to fulfill her childish dream to work as a watermen alongside her father. But the dream did not satisfy the woman she was becoming. Alone and unsure, Louise began to fight her way to a place where Caroline could not reach.
Renowned author Katherine Paterson here chooses a little-known area off the Maryland shore tas her setting for a fresh telling of the ancient story of an elder twin's lost birthright.
First Sentence:
As soon as the snow melts, I will go to Rass and fetch my mother.
I bought Jacob Have I Loved because I thought I had read it a few years ago, turns out I had only contemplated reading it...a lot.
While Louise's narration is one of the highlights of Jacob Have I Loved, what I really enjoyed was Ms. Paterson's writing and how well she described the setting in which the book took place, a coastal fishing village off the shores of Maryland.
Now, I don't usually get into books were fishing is the main occupation of the inhabitants - it frankly bores me - I did enjoy the picture that she painted of the struggles that those of Rass faced and how it impacted the lives of Louise and Caroline.
What really drew me to wanting to read Jacob Have I Loved, other than the thought that I'd read it before, was the premise of the story which is kind of like the story of Jacob and Esau and how the younger one stole the others birthright, while in this one this book it more like the other one, Caroline, is presented with more opportunities in which to pursue her dreams while the other, Louise, is pretty much destined to push and scrap for every little thing that she wants.
    Do I wish that there had been some reconciliation between Louise and Caroline, yes. would it have made sense in context to the story, not at all. Because by the time the book draws to a close neither is the same as they were in the beginning.

Jacob Have I Loved pulled me in pretty much from page one as Louise's story was told. I like the from the very first page you were presented with a character that was extremely flawed, and that she even realized that she was not perfect. I thought it was interesting to see how Louise's view of herself was so clear, and that she could recognize that her dislike- bordering on hate- of her sister Caroline was not something to be admired and that she tried- and mostly failed- to be a better person even when she felt slighted.  
What really made Jacob Have I Loved such a great read for me was the brutal honesty in which Louise's voice shone through. I felt that the author did an excellent job of capturing the varying moods that she shifted through; her insecurity of the way she looked; how she felt that her parents did care for her like they did Caroline; and finally how she broke free and learned to live for herself. Her portrait of Louise is what makes this book such an unforgettable read.
     While I really loved this book there were a couple points in the book when the story just didn't feel like it was progressing in the least bit as Louise would bemoan the unfairness that is her life. Yes she had a difficult childhood, but at points it felt like the same arguments were made by her without anything new actually happening or whatnot.

Final Verdict: Jacob Have I Loved beautifully and honestly written.

Jacob have I Loved earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this before (mostly because I watched the movie version and just detested it) but I may just have to give it a read after your review. Sounds like it has some great deep characters!


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