Word Spelunking

Jake and Lily - Jerry Spinelli THREE WORDS: Completely Captivating & TouchingMY REVIEW: Every once in a while a MG Contemporary comes along and really captures my heart, mind and imagination completely…Jerry Spinelli’s Jake and Lily is definitely one of those books!Twins Jake and Lily are more than just brother and sister, they’re best friends. They have a powerful connection that allows them to know when the other one is in trouble or hurt, finish each other’s sentences and communicate without words. The twins were born on a train and every year on their birthday they sleepwalk to a train station. Jake and Lily believe that nothing will ever break their connection…but the summer they turn 11, everything changes. Their parents decide it’s time the twins have separate rooms, Jake starts to hang out with a group of neighborhood boys and Lily finds it hard to get a life a part from her brother. Bullies, a hippie grandfather, new friends, growing pains and figuring out just who they are- these are just a few of the things that Jake and Lily must face during the summer of their eleventh year.Jerry Spinelli is the author of many much loved MG books, such as Maniac Magee, Loser and Stargirl, and with Jake and Lily, Spinelli offers readers another touching, funny and pitch perfect novel for young readers.Jake and Lily is written from the points of view of both title characters in the form of diary/journal entries, which the two young characters plan on turning into a book about their lives, and I found this to be a brilliant way to really explore each character and their individual stories. The story itself is neither fast nor slow paced; it moves at the perfect speed to allow readers to get to know the characters, while holding the readers’ interest. Spinelli writes with humor, honesty and an age appropriate seriousness and when combined together the three make for a wildly fun and entertaining story that is surprisingly moving and poignant.Both Jake and Lily are wonderful MG characters. Spinelli creates a tangible and believable connection between the twins while giving each character enough depth and development to stand alone as compelling individuals. Jake is the calm, logical and rational twin, while Lily is the twin with a temper and knack for troublemaking. I really loved both of them, both as twins and as individuals, but I must admit that Lily is my favorite (she’s totally a kindred spirit!). I found myself so invested and caught up in the deep, powerful connection between the twins. There are other really awesome characters as well; Poppy and Soop are two of my other faves.There are quite a few issues explored in this novel- bullies, grief, the pains; heartache and confusion of growing up- and I think Spinelli touches upon on these things in some really beautiful and honest ways. Both Jake and Lily have different experiences during the summer of their eleventh year, but they go through a lot of the same things and discover a lot about who they are and who they want to be. I think readers of all ages, but young readers especially, will be able to greatly connect with Jake and Lily’s stories and experiences.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Jerry Spinelli’s Jake and Lily is an outstanding MG Contemporary, full of funny moments, fantastic characters and a truly touching story. I really loved this book and highly recommend it!

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