Jacob Have I Loved was written by Katherine Paterson and won the 1981 Newbery Medal. The novel tells the story of the Bradshaws, a family living on an island in the Chesapeake Bay during the 1940’s. Louise and Caroline, the two Bradshaw children, are twins. Louise, or “Wheeze” as her sister calls her, feels overshadowed by Caroline and struggles with issues of jealousy. However, eventually Louise leaves the island and discovers who she is outside of her sister’s shadow.
Jacob Have I Loved is a beautifully written children’s book that, I believe, will benefit tweens tremendously. Loosely based on the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, a tale of rivalry between two brothers, Paterson’s novel addresses the issue of jealousy among siblings. Told from Louise’s point of view, it effectively communicates to readers why she feels so overshadowed by her sister. Louise’s jealousy is not only a result of what Caroline does and says, but of the way others respond to Caroline. Jacob Have I Loved is a great read for tweens struggling with issues of jealousy, or who are feeling overshadowed or unnoticed.
Genre: realistic fiction
Reading/interest level: ages 9 to 12
Similar titles: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal 1981
ALA Notable Children’s Book 1976-1980
School Library Journal Best Books of 1980
Best of the 80’s YA Novels (English Journal)
Best of the 80’s (ALA Booklist)