Jacob Have I Loved

by Katherine Paterson

Paperback, 2000







Harper Keypoint (2000), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages


Feeling deprived all her life of schooling, friends, mother, and even her name by her twin sister, Louise finally begins to find her identity.


Original publication date


Physical description

256 p.; 7.7 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member nittnut
It has been quite a while since the last time I read this. I had forgotten a lot of the story. It is a beautiful and heart wrenching story about growing up in the shadow of a sibling and the struggle to become separate and unique. I know that the things that happen to us as children shape us,
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whether we really understand them or not, and whether things are as we perceive them. Sara Louise struggles mightily, but eventually finds her place and it is perfect.

Personally, I'd rather die than turn out like Wheeze's grandma.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Paterson is one of the few recipients of two Newbery Medal Awards. This winner in 1981 follows Bridge to Terabithia. While I enjoyed the first, I found Jacob Have I Loved more profound.

Set in the 1940's small island located on the Chesapeake Bay, this thought provoking book is a tale of twin
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sisters, one plain and one beautiful. One is musically gifted with a beautiful voice, the other rough and jagged from the constant comparison leaving her missing the mark and not quite as pretty, as talented, as smart, as alluring.

The story is told from the voice of Louise who, from her birth, was treated differently than her twin. As she struggles with second best, the perception is cruelly confirmed in a moment of vulnerability as her bitter bible quoting, misguided grandmother whispers "Jacob have I loved, but Esau Have I Hated."

The analogy of the bible reference is woven throughout the book as the family sacrifices for the one, leaving the other to feel emotionally neglected.

While Caroline is known for her incredible musical talent, Louise is a tom boy who works with her father in fishing and crabbing.

As Caroline develops a sense of self, unconnected to her sister, she leaves the island and finds her own voice.
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LibraryThing member countrylife
A coming of age story, somehow both blunt and sensitive, about one girl's growing up on the Chesapeake.

The back of my book says, “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,
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her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved. Perceiving the unjustness of her grandmother, this colors her reactions within all her other relationships, as Louise nurses those perceptions and misperceptions, creating for herself a harder childhood than it needed to have been. In the end, those things she learned in her youth stood her in good stead for her calling in life.

Katherine Paterson does an excellent job of setting, characterization and story.
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LibraryThing member mirrani
I don't really know what I want to say about this book. I enjoyed it, but it didn't touch me. The writing was good, but I have read other Newbery Award books that were much better. I suppose that the feeling I get from the book is somewhat fitting, seeing as how the main character is somewhat
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obsessed with the fact that her twin sister gets all the attention while she is basically ignored. Yes, it is true that having a sibling creates issues like this at times, where one feels the other is getting more family concentration than the other, but I think only a sibling will be able to really feel that coming from the text, and then only a sibling who has been through the experience before.

As an educator, I'm not very certain about the tone of the book. I felt as if there were plenty of times when the girl could have taken the opportunity to stand up for herself, take things into her own hands, choose the better path that she craved. In the beginning of the story she certainly does this, investigating the "haunted" house to see who is inside or acting the part of the typical teen by shrugging off her grandmother in a somewhat casually defiant sort of way. Yet she felt trapped by the island? She knows how to go and get education elsewhere, but it takes an adult on the island to get the job done for her? Someone has to remind her that she can go to the mountains if that is what she wants? Those kinds of things threw me off against the characters and I am not sure it gives young readers the right ideas. Yes, get help from adults when you need it, but sitting around and fussing about your fate isn't going to change it. I would want more of a feeling of "you can do anything and go anywhere, if you work hard enough" to come from a book like this. I didn't feel that.

The story takes place during the war and describes things like the news about Pearl Harbor and young men going off to join the army. These touches I liked and thought felt very real, as did the description of the island and what it was like to live through the hurricane. The physical essence of the book in terms of location and place in history were perfectly normal and enjoyable, I just wasn't sure how to set the book in my mind otherwise.
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LibraryThing member biblioteca1603
Powerful novel about a young girl, Louise, growing up in the shadow of her twin sister, Caroline. Set in a small fishing community in Chesapeake Bay in the early 1940s, Jacob Have I Loved presents an intimate portrait of Louise, her family, and in particular her relationship with her sister who
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seems to get everything she wants and everything so easily. The book’s title refers to the biblical relationship between Jacob and Esau ,(the latter being the despised younger twin) and it is the taunt made by Louise’s crusty grandma that haunts her as she navigates the complexity of family and feelings. The slow rhythms of the island community are beautifully rendered and the reader is immediately drawn into Louise’s world –both inner and outer—in this coming-of-age story. When her sister eventually leaves the island to pursue a passion for music, Louise believes that she will never leave: fishing, tending to her parents and few close friends are the best lot for her. Ultimately though Louise comes to realize that she too must leave her beloved island in order to be true to herself and how she comes to terms with this decision and herself is poignantly felt. A brilliant coming-of-age novel that captures the nuances of love, ambivalence, and acceptance that many young adults contend with as they explore the cusp of adulthood. Grade 7 and up.
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LibraryThing member ashleytylerjohn
Not at all what I was expecting (not sure what I was expecting, but not this!) ... it reminded me in many ways of Little Women, believe-it-or-not. At one point it lurched in a horrifying plot direction, but veered back again, phew, and proceeded in ways I could get behind. Not funny enough, moving
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enough, suspenseful enough, etc., to warrant the rare 5 stars, but this really was a terrifically-written book.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s).
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LibraryThing member egelantier
her books always give me such a feeling of weight, of something squeezing the breath out of me, and this one is the heaviest so far, i think: the terrible loneliness of it, the suffocating confines of a little island where everybody knows everyone and there's no space for any difference, the
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jealousy, the terrible, heavy want to be loved, to be known. i loved how there was no catharsis, no magical moment of being right with the world, just sort of grim, terrified hanging on until managing to let yourself go, finally, for your sake and not others'. i'm not quite sure how to feel about the ending, about recreating the same closed-off space you ran from - though it probably says more about me than sarah - and would it be enough, and would her own children be telling same story sometime down the line - but even so, getting there was a relief, an exhale: she survived herself. what's more to ask?
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LibraryThing member ptnguyen
Ages 9-12

"Jacob have I loved, but Essau have I hated..." With her grandmother's taunt, Louise is the bilibical Essau, the despised elder twin while her beautiful, talented, and popular sister, Caroline, is the loved Jacob. Louise is nicknamed Wheeze by Caroline. All her life, Louise feels that she
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is living in Caroline's shadow. Louise also believes that Caroline robs her of her friends, family, her hopes of schooling,her mother, even her name. Everybody in her family encourages Carolin's music talent and sends her to Julliard. Meanwhile, Louise is ignored. Louise feels that every task and relationship undertaken by her brings her defeat and greater headaches.

The story covers Louise's early adolenscence to adulthood. Sets in the 1940s during World War II in Chesapeake Bay island in Maryland, the story tells of Louise's struggle of self-reliance and identity. World War II is symbolic to the war going on within Louise. The war unexpectedly gives Louise a chance of realizing her dream of working alongside her father as a waterman. However, it fails to fulfill Louise's struggle to find her identity. The sibling rivlary between Louise and Caroline in the story is poignantly realistic to our society. Children will definitly connect with Louise and her feelings of being left out and unloved.
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LibraryThing member caltstatt
The story of twin girls growing up on a Chesapeake Bay island where one girl compares herself to Esau, the older despised child. Sara Louise has as she sees it a perfect sister name, Caroline, whom everyone looks after. Sara Louise hates her sister and cannot stand to be around her. She loves being
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outside and catching crabs and oysters like her father. Sara Louise has a bitterness she finally overcomes several years later. Caroline marries Sara Louise's best friend after moving away to take a singing scholarship in New York. Sara Louise befriends a man who moves back to the island, but finds after a tragic storm that she might love him, even though he is much older than she. Events never turn for her benefit, so she is very negative about life. She resolves to helping her father for the rest of her life when the older man she admires encourages her to do whatever she wants with her life. She then decides to go to college and ends up in Kentucky as a nurse and midwife, married to a Catholic man.
I think this book would be more appropriate for high school girls. Discussion could be sparked with the students about how there was a failure to communicate between the family and Sara Louise. I think much of her bitterness could have been overcome earlier in her life if she had talked more with those in her family. Students today could compare this family's culture with their own. Even though these people didn't have outside distractions, they still didn't seem to communicate very much. The students could also research this island to see if it is real and how the weather patterns could really affect an island like the one in the book.
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LibraryThing member andersonden
It's been quite some time since I read this book. It's about twins growing up in an isolated island community and how the elder copes with her younger sister's favored status. In some ways it reminded me of the place I lived at the time - an island off the coast of British Columbia. It is a tale of
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successful passage to adulthood and all the fear and pain that go with it.
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LibraryThing member debnance
Louise and Caroline are twins, but they are nowhere near identical. In Louise's eyes, it is Caroline who is brilliantly talented and it is Caroline who is beautiful; Louise finds it is Caroline who is given special privileges and treats while Louise is given nothing. The story is told from Louise's
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point-of-view so it is hard to tell whether Caroline's special treatment is real or is just the way it is seen from the eyes of a jealous sister. In some ways, it is obvious that Louise is cast aside; Louise's grandmother has nothing but disdain for her. Whatever the reality of the preferential treatment, it is very real to Louise. I couldn't help feeling deep sorrow for Louise as she is continually set aside and set aside for a lovelier and gifted sister.
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LibraryThing member rheasly
Set in the small island of Rass in Chesapeake Bay during the 1940s, Jacob Have I Loved is a story about Louise, who is struggling to find herself as she feels constantly overshadowed by her twin sister Caroline. Louise lives with Caroline, her parents, and Grandmother. She helps her father with his
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fishing and regularly contributes to her family's funds so that Caroline may get voice lessons on the mainland. Louise resents her sister for having a true talent that gives her a ticket off the island. She struggles to find her own courage to leave everything she has known, because while she does not want to stay on Rass, she has a fear of leaving her home. This book is good for anyone who feels at odds with both hating and loving their home and family. Katherine Paterson writes honestly about the complicated emotions that one feels as the come of age. Easily relate-able for anyone over the age of 12.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This is a complex book of jealousy, sense of self, and family relationships. Louise finds herself always coming short when in comparison to her twin sister. Her perceptions are magnified with every incident of her life. Eventually, Louise comes to accept her own perceptions of being worth less -
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and then she is able to begin to find out who she is, apart from her twin. Very good
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LibraryThing member msjessicamae
This book has broken my heart and then put the pieces back together so gently I didn’t even realize it was mended.

It was difficult for me to get into the beginning of Jacob Have I Loved. I thought I had read it before but it turned out to be a different book than I thought so I didn’t know
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what to expect. Then, I kept waiting for Jacob to appear. Who was he? What was his story?

Finally, about 50 pages in, I let go of waiting for Jacob and just fell into the story. I couldn’t put it down after that. The story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Then, it began shaving off pieces of my heart until it finally shattered what was left with one quick moment.

I knew it was coming. I could feel it about to happen. Well, I could feel the build-up that something was going down but at first I didn’t know if it was going to be good or bad. I just knew it was big. Then, I knew it was bad. I could see what was going to happen but she didn’t know yet. I wanted to shake her “don’t you know what is going to come next?” Then, she knew, and I was heartbroken. I didn’t know if we would ever recover but by the end of the book I was yelling “don’t forget the first one.” And after all that I closed the book with a smile on my face.

I love Louise and though she lived a very different life from me, so much of her felt familiar. Oh Jacob Have I Loved, how I have loved you.
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LibraryThing member Samanthasrai
I resisted this book at first but it drew me in. Potent characterisation and realisation of that particular island lifestyle. Central character's frustration, bitterness, resilience and heartbreak is very well done.
LibraryThing member Kirstin2015
Jacob have I loved is about a girl named Louise. Louise has a twin sister Caroline whom she has always been compared to. Ever since birth, when Caroline almost died, she has been the center of everyone's attention while Louise recieves none. Caroline is prettier than Louise, is an amazing singer,
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and adored by everyone on the island of Rass. Louise and her friend Call catch crabs as to help their families earn a little extra money. One day when the ship from the mainland comes, an unfamiliar face gets off the boat. There is talk of him being Hiram Wallace, the son of the old captain that had been the wealthiest man on the island. At first, Louise has a different theory about him. She believes he is a spy or a Nazi. But after their first encounter, she realizes he's neither and her and Call begin to visit him more often. When a hurricane occurs and completey wipes out Hiram's house he stays with Louise's family. It's during this time that Louise falls in love with the Captain. Though he is much much older than her, she has fallen for him.

Jacob Have I Loved was a very good book. There were a lot of things that happened that surprised me. I enjoy a book that isn't completely predictable. Katherine Paterson is a wonderful author and this book very much deserved the Newbery Medal that it was awarded.
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LibraryThing member aimless22
Island life in the Chesapeake Bay during WWII. Crabs and oysters, family issues, twin girls growing up in isolation. Louise grows up in the shadow of her beautiful, talented twin sister, Caroline. She must decide what she actually wants from life, rather than letting life happen to her.
LibraryThing member radical_rachel
Growing up in the 1940s was not the easy. WWII, food shortage, and little money etc. makes the whole situation a messy one. However, for Sara Louise Bradshaw, these are just the beginning of her problems. Her biggest trouble is her younger twin sister, Caroline, who is seemingly perfect at
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everything she does. Sara is forced to stand back as Caroline unknowingly takes away the love of her mother, her hopes for school and even her best friend. To combat this Sara begins to learn the ways of the watermen spending as much time as possible on a skiff with her father. She soon becomes exposed to a secret of the island when Captain Wallace comes back to the island, after disappearing 50 years earlier.

Jacob Have I Loved won the 1981 Newbery Medal, and is written by Katherine Paterson, the award winning author of The Bridge to Teribethia. It was also given the honors of ALA Notable Children's Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults. This book takes you on a journey with a young girl, as she faces the trials of being a teenager, and discovers her place world.
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LibraryThing member A.Pilgrim
Set in the 1940s at the dawn of WWII, "Jacob Have I Loved" centers around Sara Louise and her troubled relationship with her twin sister Caroline. Sara Louise's unremitting jealousy towards Caroline makes her life more difficult, but also helps her to eventually stand on her own.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This is the tale of Sara Louise Bradshaw, a teenager on a small island in Chesapeake Bay, who comes of age in the early 1940s. It's not a pleasant time in her life--not that she would consider any time in her life particularly pleasant. Her 13-plus years have been spent in the shadow of her twin
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sister, the delicate, beautiful and talented Caroline. Louise yearns for her own space, her own identity, but such things seem hard to come by in their small community. I found the tale of Louise's struggles a bit tedious, yet for some reason her character reached out and grabbed my interest almost from the beginning. In the end, I was less than satisfied. I guess I wanted a typical heroic/fairy tale ending where Louise triumphs over all her foes. Instead, Ms. Paterson treats us to an ending that's more like real life, where you find satisfaction in a direction slightly different than your original dream.
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LibraryThing member msandberg
Paterson's tale of teen angst is brilliantly written. She spins the tale of Louise, or "Wheeze," the under appreciated twin who is always cast in the shadow of her sister, Caroline. Her best and only friend, Call- though never seeming to understand any of her jokes- spends day after day with Louise
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crabbing. Eventually they all grow older and both Caroline and Call leave the island, leaving Louise growing more and more stifled day after day. This wonderful story is told through excellent character development and perfectly exemplifies the emotions that accompany sibling relationships. My favorite aspect of the book is that because Louise is the narrator, you are being told her side of the story, therefore clouded and unable to see the intentions of others, which calls into question the protagonist/antagonist roles.
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LibraryThing member MissBoyer3
Sara Louise Bradshaw is sick and tired of her beautiful twin Caroline. Ever since they were born, Caroline has been the pretty one, the talented one, the better sister. Even now, Caroline seems to take everything: Louise's friends, their parents' love, her dreams for the future.

For once in her
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life, Louise wants to be the special one. But in order to do that, she must first figure out who she is . . . and find a way to make a place for herself outside her sister's shadow.
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LibraryThing member marsap
A Newberry award winner--telling the tale of two twins and angst of being the twin in the shadow. Generally I enjoyed the book--but did think that the resolution came too quickly. I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
I felt like this book was three loosely joined parts, the description of life on the island, Luise's relationship with the Captain, and then Luise's life afterwards. When I finished, I felt like I was still waiting to see what will happen, the story just tapered off.
The description of Rass is so
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vivid, I could almost smell things, and that made this a pleasant read.
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LibraryThing member Vanessa.B.
Summary: This story takes place in the 1940’s, the main character is Sara Louise. Sara Louise feels like she lives in her sister’s shadow. Everyone seems to love and favor her sister. Part of the book talks about a bible verse “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated…” Which is why the
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book is called “Jacob Have I Loved”

Personal Reaction: The book is good because a lot of children go through this when they have siblings, feeling as if they are in their sibling’s shadow. It was kind of hard for me to get into this book but it was a good book, if that makes sense.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. Pick out vocabulary from the book and have the write sentences using the vocab.
2. Have the class compare the two characters.
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