First love is a wholly unique and strange creature. It’s like seeing a new color or hearing an unfamiliar, but beautiful birdsong. Some run to it with open arms while others are more cautious, almost suspicious of their feelings and of this potentially untrustworthy thing. I was somewhere in between.
The first book I loved was Jacob Have I Loved, ironically enough. All my previous reading had been dominated by grand old fairy tales from every continent, Shakespeare, and classic fantasy. Sara Louise was unlike any of the women in those books. She was awkward, bitter, passionate. She wore overalls and spent her time crab-fishing and running around with her best friend, Call. She admitted her spite for her twin sister Caroline, who was adored by everyone. It was the first time I had seen jealousy – a real jealousy – written in such blunt terms. There is no concrete resolution of the twins’ relationship. It was puzzling to me. I knew happy endings didn’t always exist in real life, but in the books I’d read, it was always clear one way or the other. The prince marries the princess, Romeo and Juliet die, and the one ring is destroyed. Sara Louise’s story is more obtuse. It’s a story about identity and growing up. That honestly wasn’t clear to me at first. I finished the book feeling dissatisfied and a little lost. There was something there though. I was intrigued.
It wasn’t until some time later, in the midst of my own identity story, that my love for the little book set on an island called Rass fully bloomed. I too felt awkward, out of place, and overlooked by the world in favor of more confident girls, girls with blue eyes, straighter hair, longer legs, and sparkly lip gloss. I felt like Sara Louise. Finally, we understood each other.