Sunday, December 13, 2020

Jo & Laurie

Stohl, Margaret and de la Cruz, Melissa. Jo & Laurie
June 2nd 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Jo March is less than pleased with her publisher, who has not only made her artificially sweeten her novel, but has saddled it with the diminutive title Little Women. Still, her family desperately needs money, since her father still has not returned from the war, since he is helping with Reconstruction in the South. In real life, Beth has died, although she was allowed to live in the book, and Jo is struggling with reconciling her family's real life with the fictional one that has garnered critical acclaim as well as a healthy fan base. Meg is not engaged, but is interested in Laurie's former tutor, but insists that she will marry a wealthy man in order to secure her family's finances. Amy is young and generally unhelpful. Jo struggles to write, and is glad of Laurie's friendship. When the two travel to New York, it is obvious that Laurie is interested in more of a romance, but Jo is not. Or is she? She tries to set him up with a wealthy socialite, and sets to work on her much anticipated second novel, but has to decide how she really feels about her long time friend. 
Strengths: The authors are clearly fans of Alcott and do a fantastic job of including details from the books as well as making logical projections. It was fun to go back to this world and see more of Jo's experience with being a published author. In general, this made much more sense to me than the modern reimaginings that cast Jo as gay. I have no issue with Jo being gay, and that certainly could have been a life style that she or Alcott could have embraced, given their location and literary friend group. The only thing keeping Jo  (or Alcott) back from a "Boston marriage" would have been her lack of funds. It seems more in line with the canon to have Jo at least investigate a romance with Laurie; I was always more of a fan of Professor Bhaer, but there are a lot of Camp Laurie believers. 
Weaknesses: There seemed to be a lot of travel back and forth to Boston and New York that seemed a little unusual for the March/Alcott family, but is within the realm of possibility. 
What I really think: Since I can't get modern readers to pick up (and keep reading) Little Women, I will pass on purchase. Back in 2012, I did buy Baratz-Logsted's Little Women and Me  and it's been checked out all of 11 times. Love the cover of Jo & Laurie; this would have been my favorite color, had it been prevalent when I was young. Love that minty/blue green!

My goodness. A lot of people were really angry with this one, mainly because of the fact that Jo ended up with Laurie. Even if you don't like that conclusion, it's a well done book. Perhaps read the book before you give it one star? Just a thought.
 Ms. Yingling

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