Of Goomblas and Grandfathers: Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

Jan_Feb2013

It’s been a while since I read a Jerry Spinelli book. I fell in love with the author since I read Stargirl. The last book I read that he wrote was Eggs, if memory serves me right. As a book hunter, I am always on the lookout for new reads, especially by authors I like. When I saw Jake and Lily on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, I did not hesitate to pick up the book and take it home with me.

Jake and Lily

Jerry Spinelli’s Jake and Lily is included in the 2012 Cybils Nominations for the Middle Grade Fiction category. It got me really excited because I have a copy of the book. Our bimonthly theme, Crazy Over Cybils, was the perfect ‘excuse’ to finally grab this book from my TBR pile and start reading.

Told in alternating points of view, Jake and Lily is a story about fraternal twins – whose names you should already have known by now – and their topsy turvy “twinny twin twins” life. The book is 335 pages long, but not every single page is filled with text, thus making it an easy breezy read. I wasn’t too crazy about the cover. I thought it lacked the “Jerry Spinelli” touch to it as I have seen in his other books.

stargirl1

maniac-magee-by-jerry-spinelli

eggs

milkweed

loser

I blame it on the mini-photographer and artsy fartsy in me. I like obscure book covers, covers that don’t give away the story. While it’s true that the book is about twins, it would have worked better (for me, at least) if it only showed, say, a bicycle and a foot on a pedal or something that represents Jake and Lily.

Story-wise, Jake and Lily started kind of slow for me, even though it began talking about Jake and Lily’s metaphysical entanglement as their grandfather’s described it. Or their goombla, a name they invented to refer to the somewhat telepathic powers between twins.

Like the time I yelled “Stop!” and Lily heard me and stopped – just as she was about to chase a ball into the street when a car was coming. No big deal, maybe you’re saying, except at the time I was at the dentist – five miles away. – Jake, p. 15

The first half of the story revolved around the twins’ connection and how it glued Jake and Lily’s lives together. The twins’ so-called ESP (extrasensory perception) lacks scientific proof to this day, but there is no denying that people have reported – perhaps there are still others that do – such phenomenon.  I’ve heard stories, mostly about the twins’ ability to know and understand each other’s feelings. There is truly something special about a twins’ bond.

The story picked up after the first half, when the conflict finally arrived – in the form of growing up and getting a life. I like how the story explored the idea that even though you spent your whole growing years – your entire childhood – with your twin or sibling (or even best friend!), you each have your own lives to deal with. Also, just because you’re doing different things and spending time with different people do not mean that you have lost that connection you initially have with that person. It takes a lot to break free from that special bond – to learn to let go – just as much as it takes a lot to “get a life” as Poppy put it.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be entangled with somebody” – boy, am I sorry Poppy ever told us we’re entangled – “and then that somebody dumps you and you’re left all alone with nothing to do but pick your nose.” – Lily, p. 127

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was ‘listening’ to Poppy, Jake and Lily’s grandfather. It’s always a delight reading stories that involve grandparents. I was reminded of my own grandfather. While we didn’t have crazy talks about the Universe, the infinite sky, and metaphysical entanglements as I was growing up, my grandfather has always been the groovy kind. He’s the happy, free-spirited old soul who does push-ups at the glorious age of 80!

Jake and Lily is a heartfelt read about family, sibling love, and finding one’s identity. Try this book for a light and relaxing read. It’ll teach you a thing or two about metaphysical entanglements, and finding your place in the Universe.

Do you have any twin or grandfather stories to share?
Tell us about it in the comments box below.

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1 Comment on Of Goomblas and Grandfathers: Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

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