Release Date: November 8, 2011
Received: ARC from author
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!)
But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted's winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite.
I'm breaking out the pom-poms
There's no question about it, I'm a hyperventilating, cheering, hand-flapping clapping, total fangirl of Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I fell in love with her Gothic suspense The Twin's Daughter, adored her girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy boarding school romp The Education of Bet, and I had a laugh-out-loud blast with her latest, Little Women and Me!
WARNING: What kind of Little Women fan are you?
I may be totally wrong here, but I think people who love--or are at least familiar with--Little Women are the readers who will get the most out of this book. Now, you don't need to have read the book cover to cover (I haven't! I know, for shame). Just watch a movie version (I HIGHLY recommend the 1994 version with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale) and you'll be all set (are English teachers everywhere cringing at my recommendation to ignore the book?).
Now for the fans, what kind of fan are you? Are you the type who adores every single aspect of Louisa May Alcott's masterpiece and you cannot allow even the tiniest criticism of her genius work?
Or are you able to accept some friendly digs? Because, I mean, look, as much as I loooove the story, there's definitely room for a little good-natured mockery. Getting a copy of Pilgrim's Progress and some advice on how to improve your character as a Christmas present? LAME-O, Marmee! Am I right? And as cool and awesome and free-spiritedly amazing as Jo can be, her shtick can get a little annoying, right? Talk about bossy and over-dramatic! But I love them.
So, ok, if what I just said above gave you a serious case of the eye-twitch and you're ready to reach into your computer and strangle me for my blasphemy, then don't even consider reading Little Women and Me. You won't like it.
But, if you were nodding along and maybe even cracked a smile, then you so need to get your hands on a copy of this book! You know fractured fairy tales? Think of this as a fractured classic.
What to expect
Get ready to run through a significant portion of Little Women as Emily lives the events of the book as a fifth March sister. It was like taking a nostalgic romp through the highlights of one of my favorite stories with a sarcastic and thoroughly modern teenager keeping up a running commentary on the whole thing. To say it was funny is an understatement. I was constantly either laughing, smirking, or snickering throughout the whole experience. I kept exclaiming, "That's so true!!" at all of Emily's snarky observations.
Emily isn't exactly a perfect girl herself, though. Her fatal flaw is jealousy, and wow does she do some stupid, pig-headed things because of it! As a result, I had a hard time liking her at times. But you know what, jealousy makes us do stupid things, and Emily is a teenager, not a saint. As much as I found her frustrating sometimes, I also loved her for her totally real and honest reactions. Some of her actions and thoughts weren't very attractive, but I have to admit that they were relatable.
As Emily butts heads with Jo and criticizes Amy (though, come on, Amy so deserves it), she also sees how she can behave in a very similar manner. Ah ha! The light bulb comes on. You can see the lessons coming from a mile away, but Emily doesn't. Sometimes this tactic can be frustrating as you're sitting there impatiently waiting for the character to just GET IT ALREADY, but I didn't feel that way at all with Little Women and Me. I loved watching Emily blunder through things and then eventually, finally, make the connections. Dare I say I even felt a bit like Marmee, patiently waiting for her darling daughter to connect the dots?
What NOT to expect and where that fifth star went
So I was happily following along with the story when I suddenly realized how few pages were left. There was all this important stuff that still had to happen in the original story and I wanted to continue along with Little Women: The Version Hilariously Annotated by a Modern Teenager, but then it ended! Now, ok, the ending makes sense and I do see why it had to end there, but I was having so much fun. More is more for me, and I wanted more. I wanted to run right through to the end where Jo and Professor Bhaer confess their love and kiss under the umbrella (and, yes, I know this wouldn't have worked at all. I mean, what would Emily do, hide in the bushes and watch like a creepy stalker? No, but I bet she would have had something funny to say about it).
The ending was also just a touch too abrupt for my tastes. Maybe it's because I was so immersed in the book, and maybe it's because of the episodic nature of Little Women that makes an ending sort of come out of the blue a little anyway, but I didn't feel any lead up to the end. I'm a reader that needs to be coddled. Maybe I don't need quite as much coddling as The Lord of the Rings (that had, what, like five different endings??), but I need a gentle nudge and slowing down to let me know that things are going to start wrapping up soon. This was more of a BAM! Ok, we're done!
I also would have liked to have seen a little more resolution with Emily's life. Just a few scenes to show her more fully applying the lessons she learned. Instead we're more left with her acknowledging the lessons and an assumption that she will act on them, but we don't get to see that happen as much as I would have liked.
Finally, I wanted a little more explanation for how Emily got sucked into the book. Really lay it out for me. Hit me with the obvious stick. I kept waiting for a fairy godmother to pop out and explain the phenomenon to her, but no such luck.
Now, ok, I know I'm knocking the ending a little, but I also have to say that the Big Reveal is SO cool! I never would have thought of it, but Lauren Baratz-Logsted's solution is incredibly creative and I can totally buy it. Lauren is an absolute genius!
Reading this book felt like inviting a snarky friend over for a sleepover and watching Little Women together while keeping up a running commentary of modern teen impressions. So it was pretty much a snarky giggle-fest. I may have been a little disappointed with the ending, but part of that disappointment stems from how much fun I had. I feel like the party is over and now I'm dreary because I know I'll have to wait a whole week before I can invite Emily over for another sleepover party. Except there won't be another sleepover party because this is a standalone book and I'm kinda bummed about that.
Maybe Emily can get sucked into another book? Please? If she does, then I am SO there.
Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key
|I'm not sure which cover will be on the final version, but this is a photo of my ARC|
Do you have any questions about Little Women and Me that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!
Feel free to ask in the comments!
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