Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

Brian Keaney
For ages 12 to and up
Candlewick Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0763630713

When Jacob wakes up in the middle of a field he finds that he has no idea how he came to be there, who he is, and where he came from. It is as if his memory has been wiped clean. Luckily a man in a grey uniform comes to get him and he takes Jacob to a place called Locus where countless other children and young people live. There the children live in grey dormitories, they eat grey tasteless food, and they pick up rocks for six days a week. As he gets to know the routine in Locus, Jacob does his best to find out more about the place and people who are there. None of the children who are there can remember much about their past and most of them have given up trying. They eat, they sleep, they work, and they don’t ask questions any more.

Jacob refuses to give up though and soon he makes friends with Toby and Aysha. Together these three try to understand what has happened to them and over time they come to the terrifying conclusion that they are all dead. And yet, even though this knowledge seems very final and unalterable, Jacob is not willing to give up yet. He wants to go back to his family and he is sure that somewhere, out in the wasteland beyond Locus there is something which will help him achieve his goal.

This book can be disturbing but it also has a strong message of hope. With his courage and his determination to help him, Jacob refuses to give up despite the hardship he faces. This is the kind of haunting tale which readers will not easily forget and it certainly makes one wonder what lies beyond the boundaries of death and if there is a way to come back to the land of the living once one has crossed over to that unknown place.