I got this book out after reading Bridge to Terabithia (again) for my grade three book club. Katherine Paterson is quite a renound author, but I haven't really read anything else of hers. I decided I should. I was interested in seeing what she did with the Jacob and Esau reference.
Is the Jacob and Esau story a foundation for a meta narrative? I had no idea. Seemed intriguing though. She certainly does weave plenty of biblical reference through this entire story.
As I read, I wondered if this would be a good story to do for grade three book club. There were enough odd moments (huge crush on someone who could be her grandpa? Her senile grandmother accusing her mother endlessly of being a harlot?!) that made me realize it wouldn't be appropriate. As a matter of fact, as I read I started to hate the main character. I wondered how in the world the book became a Caldecott winner. However, as I kept on, I realized there really is beauty in the story. She touches on some themes in an amazing way.
Main themes seem to be finding yourself and sibling rivalry. Sara Louise hates her twin sister. She seems justified. Her sister smart quite unaware of the rivalry. She just goes about doing what she does...totally irritating Sarah Louise, who never resolves the problems with her sister. It makes it so that their sisterhood isn't at all one of those wonderful friendships. Not at all. Actually, Sarah Louise's negativity and loathing really began to wear on me. At the part where she is complaining to her mother about her mother's choices in life, I realized that she really needed to quit projecting her unhappiness on to everyone else! Happily, she does seem to figure this out for herself. She finally realizes that she needs to do what makes her happy and goes away to school. She's wants to become a doctor, but it is a time when women are really only expected to be nurses. She ends up in a small mountainous community, being the only medical professional, and ends up marrying. In her new life, she leaves her family behind, even unable to return fo funerals. Frankly, I knew if she did go back, she would go straight back to her miserableness.....so I understood her not going.
The story comes full circle when she delivers twins, spending her energy saving the life of one while the other waits in a basket.....just like when she was born. I feel like she would have made the connection and perhaps had some healing as a result of the experience.
There is magic and wisdom in this story. It would be great to read it with middle school students or even with adults....especially my church friends.
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 as her setting for a fresh telling of the ancient story of an elder twin's lost birthright.