Don’t Be a Caroline!

Do you mean “Karen?” No, I mean a “Caroline.” Keep reading, I think you’ll see what I mean. If not, let me know in the comments.

Jacob Have I Loved
Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved

By Katherine Peterson

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Sara Louis Bradshaw was always the stronger one when compared with her twin sister Caroline. Sure, being strong can have its advantages, but in Sara’s case, it was her curse. Since Caroline was a weak and sickly child, she often consumed the attention of her parents. When the girls became teens, little changed. Caroline was a girly girl who quickly became known in her town because of her angelic voice. Sara was forced to live in her sister’s shadow, always being required to defer to the needs of her twin. As you can imagine, this resulted in Sara feeling resentment toward her sister, her parents, her grandmother, and almost everyone else.

As the stronger and more resilient of the two, Sara was called upon to help with the family business, so she put her education on the back burner and helped with on her father’s crabbing boat early each day. All of Sara’s struggles were a little easier to carry when she met an elderly man who treated her like a granddaughter. But when he pays for Caroline to leave home to attend music school, Sara finds herself at her whits end.

My Thoughts

You know they say that parents not should play favorites, but unfortunately, it frequently happens. The book’s title is, of course, a reference to the story of Jacob and Esau – twin brothers that we learn about in the Old Testament of the Bible. Jacob was his mother’s favorite son. Esau was his Father’s favorite son. Jacob and his mother actually conspired together to steal Esau’s birthright – a blessing and inheritance that was reserved for the eldest son. See, Esau was a few minutes older than Jacob and was therefore the rightful heir to his father’s estate. Esau was a man’s man. He was strong. He was a hunter. He knew how to provide for the family. Jacob was smart and more than a little cunning. But, he preferred to stay in the kitchen and cook with his mother than to be out in the sun, hunting for dinner.

Between Jacob and Esau, there was definitely the contrast of a weaker brother and a stronger brother. This theme is carried over to the book, but in the case of Sara and Caroline, the weaker daughter was shown favor by both parents.

At least that is how Sara perceived her parent’s feelings.

I think that Sara allowed herself to become blinded by her jealousy. Did her parents show Caroline more affection? Yes, perhaps. Should they have tuned in to Sara’s needs and made sure that she felt the same love that her sister did? Absolutely. I think it’s easy, with a story like this, to want to pick sides – to pick a favorite. However, there is no doubt in my mind that both Sara and her parents were at fault. They all missed the mark in their relationships with one another. Sara failed to communicate her feelings. Her parents failed to see her emotional distress. They also fell into the trap of addressing the squeaky wheel more often than the one that appeared to be working smoothly. Do you know what I mean here? Caroline was a bit of a squeaky wheel. She demanded and commanded the attention of everyone around her. Sara was more resilient than Caroline. She just kept doing what she needed to do – fading into the background. Being in Caroline’s shadow wasn’t what Sara wanted, but it was the position she was thrown into because of how Caroline occupied everyone’s minds.

As a parent of three, I vowed early on not to show favoritism, but it’s hard. With two teens and a preteen, I can understand how parents can fall into this trap. It’s not a malicious choice, it’s just that you may connect with one child more than another. Perhaps, you are similar in the way you think, or you’re both creative, or you both like sports. My dad and I connected in our shared interest in computers, photography, and cinematography. I have two brothers who are MVPs in every sport they’ve ever played. My Dad isn’t into sports. Shoot. Does that make me a “Caroline”?

You know, I used to think that my inability to focus on one hobby or make a decision about “what I want to be when I grow up” was a curse. I would look at those who have a single-minded focus with jealousy, wishing that I could be like that – moving in one direction instead of 100. When it comes to parenting, though, I’m beginning to see that this is not a curse, but a blessing. It means that I have tried many things and have at least a little knowledge or experience in many things. This makes it much easier for me to connect with all three kids. One is an artist, one is a cook, and one is an engineer. All three have bright futures ahead of them – I’m sure of it. But, because I’m interested in literally everything, it’s easy to find common ground with each child. They are very different from one another, but I seek to make time for each one – connecting with them in an activity centered around their interests.

Phew! Favoritism averted! For now, anyway. Interests change, so this is something I’m going to have to be conscious of my whole life.

Things don’t get better for Sara for a long time. Caroline gets this great opportunity to go to music school, and instead of being happy for her sister, she despises her – Caroline gets all the nice things. In fact, the boy Sara likes ends up marrying Caroline. Can you believe it?! Is Caroline even aware of the pain she is causing? It’s like she doesn’t know Sara at all.

Finally, Sara leaves home and works as a nurse in a remote town. Due to the emotional damage she incurred during her childhood, she has difficulty forming strong relationships with people. Thankfully, she ends up surrounded by people who both recognize and value her strength, and they aren’t shy about it. Finally, Sara begins to believe in herself. It is at this point that she can truly be happy.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know about the podcast that my friends made about this book. They are always a joy to listen to – all three ladies have great insight – and they’re hilarious!

Team Friendship podcast about the book Jacob Have I Loved

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Can you believe it’s May already?!

You may have seen a notification from me elsewhere explaining that I’ll soon be focusing (nearly) exclusively on my Substack content. I am truly grateful to everyone who has been following my journey here on WordPress over the past couple of years. I would be honored if you would head over to and subscribe to my newsletter. Initially, it will be the same content as you see here, but as I make the transition, I will allow my WordPress site to fade into the background as my Substack publications come online. If you’d like to know more about what this Substack stuff is all about, drop me a comment, and I’d be happy to tell you more.

The Nutcracker Trilogy

I will continue to shamelessly promote these books because I’m so excited about being a small part of Drosselmeyer’s journey. If you’re new here, let me encourage you to check out The Nutcracker Trilogy by Paul Thompson. All three books are available in print and as e-books. Books one and two are available as audiobooks, narrated by yours truly. Click the links below to explore.

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be Christmas for you to enjoy these stories (just like it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy Harry Potter).

Apple Books / Apple Audiobooks / Amazon / Audible

Author’s Website

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