Monday, December 10, 2012

Jake and Lily

Horn Book (May/June, 2012)

Twins Jake and Lily have always shared a birthday, a room, and a special connection they call "goombla" (e.g., if Lily gets hurt, Jake feels pain). Now it’s the summer before sixth grade, and things are changing for the twins. Their parents decide they should have separate rooms (Jake is game, Lily distraught), and Jake starts hanging around with Bump Stubbins, whom Lily loathes. The story is a conversation between the two, with alternating viewpoints and reactions to each other’s telling (Jake to Lily: "I don’t believe you’re going to bring that stuff up"). The narrative rambles a bit, especially at the beginning before the story line picks up; however, the structure works well to provide insight into the characters both as individuals and as siblings. Jake does some regrettable things but redeems himself by book’s end. Lily shrugs off fear and self-pity to regain her inner vigilante. Spinelli’s hallmark issues -- individuality, nonconformity, alienation, standing up for the little guy -- figure prominently, and the messages are for the most part convincingly worked into the story. There’s also a welcome sense of mystery; no one tries to rationalize goombla, for example, instead allowing the kids’ unique twin-ness to remain unexplained. elissa gershowitz

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