Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: "Jake and Lily" by Jerry Spinelli

Title: Jake and Lily
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 2012

Jake and Lily are twins. But they're not what you would call normal. They have this special thing, something they call goombla—they just know things about each other without having to be told. They can't play hide and seek because they always know where the other is hiding, the don't have to look at each other's journal entries because they already know what they say, and every year on their birthday they sleepwalk to the local train station and have the same dream, most likely because they were born on a train in the  middle of a tunnel, and wake up hand in hand.

But all this starts to change one summer vacation when Jake starts to hang around with some neighborhood boys who ride around and call themselves the Death Rays. To make matters worse, the leader of the gang is Bump Stubbins, Lily's archenemy. Soon Jake and Lily start to lose their goombla, to Lily's great distress. The problem is, Jake doesn't seem to mind that much. Over the course of the summer, the two will learn what it means to be individuals while still realizing they will always be brother and sister, inextricably linked together.

While this is not my favorite Spinelli book, it is a nice summer read about growing apart and growing up. Jake and Lily have always done everything together, to the point where Lily can only define herself through her relationship with her brother. When that is taken away from her, she isn't sure who she is anymore, forcing her to figure it out after a lot of grieving. Jake also has to grow up, as he realizes that his treatment of others isn't always as kind as he has been in the past. Overall, this is a book about identity, love, loyalty, and friendship, with the added bonus of a kind of twin ESP.

Lily and Jake narrate in alternating chapters, and it is clear where their stories begin to diverge. Lily's voice is full of sarcasm, anger, and sass. She is a tomboy all the way, and is surprised and insulted when she realizes she is being left out because she's a girl. She calls it like she sees it, and I found that really admirable. Jake, on the other hand, is straitlaced and calm. You can see how he is drawn into the mob mentality, but it takes a fairly serious and cruel incident to make him realize what he's becoming.

This is a nice summer story for older elementary readers and those in the younger middle grades, and a quick read. It may look really long at 335 pages, but a lot of the chapters are less than a page, so if any kids are deterred by that let them take a look through it so they can see for themselves.

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.

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