Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

Published by: Balzer & Bray / Harper Collins Children's Books
Released on: May 8th, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher at ALA, midwinter
Ages: 8-12
5 stars: I Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jake and Lily are twins. Even though they seem pretty different—Jake is the calm one and Lily has a temper; Lily is obsessed with trains and Jake collects cool rocks—they feel exactly the same, almost like two halves of one person. When one of them gets hurt, the other can feel it. They can communicate without words. And mysteriously, every year on their birthday, they sleepwalk to a train station in the middle of the night.

But the year they turn eleven, everything changes. Their parents announce it’s time for separate bedrooms, and Jake starts hanging out with a pack of boys on the block. Lily is devastated—not to mention really, really mad. And as she struggles to make friends and get a life apart from her twin, Jake finds himself dealing with a neighborhood bully and has to decide what kind of person he really is.

Beloved author Jerry Spinelli has written another perfectly on-target, humorous, and brilliant story about the struggles of growing up and discovering who you are.

This is a story about me, Lily.
And me, Jake.
We're twins and we're exactly alike.
Not exactly!
Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me.
Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood.
Right. So anyway, this is a book about
goobers and supergoobers
true friends
things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt
and about figuring out who we are.
We wrote this together
(sort of)
so you'll get to see both sides of our story.
But you'll probably agree with my side.
You always have to have the last word, don't you?
-quoted from Goodreads

A fabulously told MG contemporary that is laced with humor, touching moments and the important lessons we all face when we start to grow up. Jake and Lily is a story MG readers and adults alike will enjoy. I loved having the chance to sit down and read this story, as well as having the change of getting to know twins Jake and Lilly. Though they're just a eleven years old, they've spent most of their life doing everything together, until now. As the twins make new friends, and develop different tastes, they learn that it's okay to let go and try new things with out the other.  

Jake and Lily have always been best friends. They've done everything together. They play the same games, share a room together, and even know how the other one is thinking and feeling. They even share an incredibly strong connection to one another, which I was completely intrigued with. Each year on their birthday they end up sleep walking to the nearest train station together. Their connection to trains ties back to their birth, as they were both born on a train a few minutes apart. Now that they've turned eleven, everything is changing. Their parents have separated them into their own rooms, Jake makes friends with a group of neighborhood boys, and Lily is left trying to learn how to go on without the attachment of her brother. This is the year that the twins gain their independence, learn to rely on each other in a different way and enjoy the differences they both have. 

I loved the way in which Jerry tells their story, and how he allowed me to get to know each character more. He allowed both Jake and Lily to tell their story together, by alternating their points of views. I loved it! The story is being told as they're writing about their experiences over the summer they turned eleven. Jake is the more laid back, level headed one, and Lily is the more upfront, feisty one. Together these two bring the humor, the heartbreak and the important lessons in friendship, honesty, letting go, standing up for themselves, bullying and growing up to the surface in this book. It was so easy for me, as an adult to identity with the emotions they both felt through out their story from when I was that age, and I feel it will be easy for a lot of younger readers to connect with Jake and Lily as they identify with those same/similar thoughts and feelings that the twins are experiencing. 

I loved getting to see how Jake and Lily grew during the course of this story, and the changes they made. They each learned to find who they were, and were able to grow into their own person, instead of being "Jake and Lily". Though a lot of things change for them, I enjoyed getting to see how they both experience similar things, though their out comes are different. For Jake and Lily it was also important for them to learn how to connect with each other on a whole different level than they did before. Though I adored both Jake and Lily, I also loved the role some of the characters played in the book. Their Poppy has a huge support in helping Lily learn to cope with finding herself without her brother, and for Jake, it was his friend Soop who taught him some important lessons in friendship and honesty. There's so much more to be said about this book..... I'll end my review by saying this is a fabulous book and it's one I highly recommend picking up! 
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~