Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Coming of Age

By Katherine Paterson

Coming of Age

Growing up isn't easy. It's tough making the transition from being a little kid to a full-fledged grown up, but Louise Bradshaw in Jacob Have I Loved struggles more than most. It's bad enough that she's in the shadow of her perfect and graceful sister, but she also has to worry about becoming a woman and all the good and bad things that entails. It means getting your period before church one Sunday and realizing you might be attracted to your 70-plus-year-old friend. Yeah—so awkward.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. Which moment in Louise's coming-of-age experience do you think is the most traumatic for her? Personally, our money is on her childhood best friend marrying her sister. Tell us what you think, though, and remember to bust out evidence from the text to support your argument.
  2. How does World War II contribute to Louise's loss of innocence? How about Caroline's? Call's?
  3. Why do you think Grandma is the one who's constantly needling Louise over her teenage trials?

Chew on This

Louise is only able to finally come of age when she forgives her sister for the starring role she's always played in the Bradshaw family.

In a way, Grandma has never grown up: she still clings to her childish faith and worries.

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