Tag Archives: katherine paterson

[G] The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

8 Apr

(#63 on School Library Journal‘s Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results from 2012.)

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson is about a smart, sassy, racist girl named Galadriel (or “Gilly”) who has been causing trouble in the foster care system. I had no idea she was named for the Lord of the Rings character, and I was surprised by how racist she is at the beginning of the book for a main character in a children’s book. But I was impressed by her journey of acceptance for both herself and for those around her, even if she didn’t get quite the happy ending she had hoped for.

I avoided reading this book for a long time, and I’m not really sure why. I think for a while, it was one of those books that I had heard about so much that I thought I’d already read it. Recently, after reading a summary of it, I was able to place it firmly in the “haven’t read” category (or at least the “don’t have any recollection of it at all” category) because I didn’t really feel like reading another rebellious (foster, orphan, adopted, etc.) child books (I’d read plenty growing up). But then, I needed a “G” book off the Top 100 list, so I decided to give it a try. (I also got a copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which I’ve been meaning to read for forever, but I didn’t really like Coraline all that much, so it made me less enthusiastic about Gaiman’s other “G” book. I’ve checked it out at least twice already, but hopefully I’ll actually get around to reading it this time. I just didn’t get around to it before I had to write this post…)

It was another small ordeal getting a hold of a copy because there were none available through the L.A. (city) public library, so I had to go through the county system. Other than the fact that my county library branch is not quite as close as the city library branch, I also try to avoid the county system because it takes a really long time to get books from different branches, and on top of that, they don’t have email notification when my book arrives. Instead, I get a quaint letter in the mail telling me that my book has arrived (sometimes after I pick it up at the library because I was obsessively checking my online account to see if the book was there yet, so I found out before they could notify me).

Anyway, I finally had time to read the book a couple weeks ago, and I enjoyed it despite myself. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since Katherine Paterson wrote one of my favorite books while growing up, Jacob Have I Loved. I usually like happy endings, but for some reason, I’m okay with not having one in her books.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter G.

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[J] Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

11 Apr

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson was the first story to ever make me cry. I think I have leakier tear ducts now, but growing up, I don’t think I suffered enough hardships for me to feel that emotional about books or movies.

What got me in this story was the plight of the older sibling. In my family, both my parents were the youngest children in their families (of three and six siblings), and my little sister was obviously younger than me. So, growing up, there was a period of time when I felt like no one understood what it was like to be the older sister. But Louise did. And she had it worse, too, because her sister was the same age, so she didn’t have the advantages of being bigger and smarter like I did.

The hardest part for me to understand was why God said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” I knew the story of Jacob and Esau from Sunday School, but it didn’t seem to fit with the God that they were teaching us. I accepted it like I accepted everything else I didn’t understand at the time (with immigrant parents, that was a lot…). Now I have a better understanding of the theology behind it, but it still trips me up a little when I read the story of Jacob and Esau now.

From Wikipedia:

The book traces Louise’s attempts to free herself from Caroline’s shadow, even as she grows into adulthood.

I’m not sure about being in my sister’s shadow, but I think with a five-years-younger sister, it was easy to feel like my parents were always on her side, and that I always had to make sacrifices because of her. She was also a super cute toddler to primary schooler, which didn’t help.

We are really close now, and I’m way more spoiled than she is. She’s grown into a mature, responsible (and still cute!) young woman, and I love hanging out with her. I’m actually curious to see what she thought about this book now, although I’m pretty sure she just liked how Louise could pole a skiff and catch soft-shell crabs. 😛 (I know she’s reading, but she’s probably too shy to comment…)

Anyway, this is a great book for big sisters to relate to! It’s not as happy or fluffy as the books I usually like, but I think it is an empowering book for girls, especially those who’ve compared themselves to the popular, pretty girls (which is probably all of them). It would also be appropriate for any kid who feels jealous of their siblings or other kids to help them work through their emotions. I think I read it when I was about nine, but Amazon has it listed as 13 and up. I would say it’s good for middle school (or students at middle school level) and up.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter J.