Friday, February 8, 2013

Jake and Lily

Spinelli, Jerry. 2012. JAKE AND LILY. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780060281359 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 - 6]

As always, Jerry Spinelli creates an intriguing coming of age tale, as Jake and Lily come to terms with separation, discover their individuality, and confront bullies. 

The book is alternatively narrated by Jake and Lily, twins.  They share a connection; a connection too difficult to describe.  This connection (or goombla) makes it impossible to play hide and go seek.  But over the summer they are turning 11, and as it does for every 11 year old, everything is beginning to change.

Jake finds friendship with a group of boys who call themselves the Death Rays.  He leaves Lily behind as they pull pranks around the neighborhood and mock “goobers.”  Lily is desperate to keep their connection alive.  Each day is spent in lonely agony (Lily does not have small emotions) as her brother drifts away.

As in WRINGER, Spinelli masterfully maneuvers through transformative and sometimes painful preadolescent issues.  Jake must come to terms with some of his poor decisions and stand up for what is right.  Lily needs to find herself and be happy as an individual.  Neither journey is easy.

The supporting characters in this story are just as intriguing.  Ernie, or “Soop” for “super goober,” is unapologetically proud of his differences, even when the Death Rays try to take advantage of his naiveté.  And the grandfather is a compassionate shoulder for Lily as she struggles through the summer. 

Many young readers have experienced relationships that have come through a transformation.  This potential book club book can be a great way to start conversations about relationships (with family and friends) and acceptance.

Other books about friendship and coming of age:
Spinelli, Jerry. WRINGER. ISBN 9780060592820.
Perkins, Lynne Rae. CRISS CORSS. ISBN 9780060092740.
Creech, Sharon. RUBY HOLLER.  ISBN 9780756919405.

By Emily Fultz

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