There’s no use lying about it; I was deeply disappointed in this book. I absolutely loved Bridge to Terabithia, which I read about two years ago, so I had high hopes for Jacob Have I Loved. It was a small book, with a nice cover, and I liked the feeling of holding it in my hands. Basically, I would have enjoyed this book far more if I’d just held it instead of actually opening it and reading it. I started it in the car on the way up to Oklahoma City and finished it the next day. And I only really enjoyed about fifteen minutes of the total reading. Even with my super-speed reading, I find that to be a very very poor ratio.
So the long and short of the story is: Louise and her family (mom, dad, crazy old grandma, and younger twin sister) live on an island in the Chesapeake Bay. The sister, Caroline, is pretty and petite, an amazing singer, and all around the favorite daughter. Louise feels like she doesn’t really belong, that she will never escape the island (but does she want to?), that she doesn’t have any real friends, and that any time something starts to go right for her, it is snatched away by someone else. Tears, sobs, tantrums. Repeat for around 150 pages. Weep that you wasted your time reading this. Marvel that the ending makes no sense to you and wonder if you were simply too bored with this book to appreciate the fabulousness of the ending (amazon.com readers told me it was fabulous).
One of my little pet peeves is when the blurb about the book is not really correct. This book, for instance, made it sound like the book would be about Louise’s struggle to not be overshadowed by her twin sister. And, yes, there was an element of that, but not much. Also, there was never any resolution of that, unless you call “sister moves away and then you move away” a resolution. I, for one, do not.
I did like the title; it was by far my favorite element of the book. The grandma (who was a total nutter) kept reciting Romans 9:13: “JACOB HAVE I LOVED BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED.” When Louise looks it up, she realizes that it is God speaking and that everyone in the Bible loved Jacob, the younger twin, more than his older brother, Esau.
This book also seemed pretty mature to me, considering the age category it’s intended for. I wouldn’t recommend it to any kid under twelve. Of course, as you can tell from the review, I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone, period. But you know what I mean.
A few days after I read this book, I mentioned it to Sherry and she said it was one of her favorite books of all time. So, okay, I may have just missed the point of the book entirely. But I’m completely unwilling to try it again.