Jake and Lily

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
Jake and Lily Book Poster Image
Twins with deep bond grow apart in funny, thoughtful story.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Jake and Lily's different viewpoints on the roles in their relationship may get readers thinking about their own siblings and which twin they agree with more. Jake and Lily also explores spiritual themes, such as eternity and finding a purpose in life.

Positive Messages

Each twin is unique and takes a different path to learning -- and that's a fine thing. In addition, Poppy tries to instill in both his grandchildren the idea that they are all connected to everything: the stars, the earth, and each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lily is impatient, short-tempered, and she complains quite a bit, but she never gives up trying to find a way to deal with what she views as Jake's betrayal of their twin bond. Jake sees himself as a more simple, straightforward thinker ("Boys don't have feelings," he tells her) and sometimes even comes across as cruel. But he eventually realizes that he cares deeply about how his actions affect others. Both twins have their wise, patient, and humorous grandpa to rely on.


Early on, Lily gets in a fight with a boy who wrecks her snow fort. Later, Jake interrupts a fight between two boys, and Jake's friend destroys a tree house that a boy in the neighborhood is building.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jake and Lily presents a realistic view of twins struggling to establish their own individual identities. Jake's friends pretend to befriend a boy so that they can make fun of him behind his back, and later Jake's friend takes the bullying to the next level by destroying the boy's property. Lily deals with feeling abandoned by her twin and accepting that their relationship is changing, and both twins spend time talking to their grandfather about how how difficult it was for him to accept his wife's death.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
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Kid, 11 years old November 2, 2018

Friendship and Love!

This book was a great read! It teaches kids about love and friendship. I'm sure anyone who has a sibling can relate to either Jake or Lily. I like how the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLynnette R. January 31, 2017

Life about two twins

I would recommend this book to people who like reading stuff about teens or if you have a twin. If you have a twin that is a boy/girl you can relate to Jake and... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Newbery Award-winner Jerry Spinelli's JAKE AND LILY, the title characters are twins with a mystical bond: Every year on their birthday, they sleepwalk and wake up in the middle of the night at the train station without knowing how they got there; they can never play hide and seek because each can sense where the other is; without being told, they know when something is wrong with the other. But the summer they turn 11, all that changes. Jake wants to hang out with his friends, but Lily still wants to hang out with Jake. Jake doesn't see what the big deal is; Lily can't understand how Jake can abandon their close relationship so easily. In alternating chapters -- and occasionally alternating sentences -- each twin narrates the events of the summer that lead them to realize nothing can ever stay the same, and that's OK.

Is it any good?

Jake and Lily have strong, distinct personalities that come across clearly on the page, and the story of their magical twin bond will intrigue many readers. Although Lily's fixation on why her relationship with her brother can't stay the same grows somewhat tiresome, it's realistic and all the more gratifying when she finally sees a way out of her doldrums. Jake's narration tends to be the more lighthearted and fun, with a thoughtful undertone that he seems unaware of. Though the story starts out short on action, it picks up toward the end, and the alternating narration and often short chapters make it a quick, entertaining read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how friendships and relationships with siblings can change. Has this happened in your life? How did you dealt with it?

  • Have you ever read a story about twins? Can you imagine what it would be like to be a twin? What would be the upside and the downside?

  • Is there anything in nature that you like to look at, or a place you like to go, that brings you comfort, the way looking at the stars comforts Poppy and makes him feel peaceful?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family stories

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