Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980), 244 pages
Paterson is one of only five authors who have received two Newbery Medals — Paterson received a Newbery for Jacob Have I Loved and for Bridge to Terabithia. Here is the complete list of Newbery Medal winning books.
Set mostly in the early 1940s on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay, Jacob Have I Loved follows the story of the Bradshaws, a family who depends on the father, Truitt, and his crabbing/fishing business, on his boat, the Portia Sue. Truitt’s two daughters, Sara Louise and Caroline, are twins — and Caroline has always been ahead. She is prettier, talented, and kinder. Sara Louise is always playing catch up, trying to earn the attention and approval of her family and her community. The book traces her efforts to free herself from her sister’s shadow, even into adulthood.
This book is on the Image Journal top 100 list, which I’ve begun making my way through. It’s a long haul, but it’s been worth it so far, no question. Jacob Have I Loved is no exception to that. The story, while rooted in its time and place, explores universal themes. I surprised myself by getting choked up once while reading it. A lovely read.
Paterson was born in China to parents who were missionaries. She later served herself in Japan before returning to the United States. The author’s website.