Jo & Laurie

by Melissa de la Cruz and Margaret Stohl

“Jo had always known that she was meant to be a writer; it had forever been hear earliest memory and the most important thing in her life. She couldn’t remember why or when she first believed it might happen. She’d just always known – and with an absolute surety she’d never felt about anything else – that she could be one, at least in terms of natural talent and proclivities.”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: A+

I always viewed the rejection of Laurie by Jo March as one of the most disappointing and unexpected moments in American literature. Perhaps I was idealistic, but from a young age, I loved the idea of these charming characters ending up together in some sort of happily ever after. Jo & Laurie helps to answer some of the questions I had about their bond and connection – what drove their friendship and what made it so beautifully beneficial to both.

I loved how this book used characteristics, language and scenes from the original novel, and truly felt like an addition to Louisa May Alcott’s work. The March sisters and Laurie came to life and the plot moved elegantly and compellingly. I was hooked and needed to know what happened next, but was also afraid to end the book because I so loved the story.

Movie Rating: G

As masters of YA fiction, the authors know what teen readers want – and in this case it was authentic Little Women-style dialogue, plot, and settings. As a result, “Christopher Columbus!” is about as profane as the language gets, and the most blush-inducing scene in the book involves one of the March girls publicly displaying their affections (in a most-appropriate 19th century fashion). The romance is sweet (not saucy) and the characters drive the plot through their thoughts and words, not wild actions. This book is as endearing as the original and just as appropriate for a wide range of readers.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes!

Little Women is having a moment – movies, book adaptations; we even had a school play of the beloved story in January! Jo & Laurie book only adds to the collection of stories that help round out Jo March as a living, breathing, off-the-page girl. This version has a sweet story that will lure in die-hard fans of Alcott’s original story as well as lovers of the recently released movie or historical fiction. Plus, the shameless “Romantic Retelling” label will absolutely attract lovers of the sweet romance genre. The cover is adorably eye-catching, and this book is sure to fly off the shelves because of the timelessly trendy subject matter and the cult following that these two authors have.

Summary:

When Little Women was originally published in 1868, it was only half of what we now know as Louisa May Alcott’s most famous novel. The other half came in 1869 in a separate volume. Although her story came together beautifully in one book, what happened in between? How did she get from her first volume to her second one (originally titled Good Wives)? Jo & Laurie details that year in between in a beautiful way!

Jo is under pressure from her publisher to get another book to her devoted readers, but is struggling with how she can stay true to her family, and compose a story that doesn’t betray her ability as an authoress. Her fictionalized relationship between Meg and Mr. Brooke has blossomed into a real-life romance, and Jo is still mourning the loss of sweet Beth. The changing attention from Laurie, however, has confused Jo and despite appeals from readers to bring the two together, she is reluctant to put into writing exactly what he means to her. With great development, descriptions, and authentic Little Women details, Jo & Laurie allows readers to imagine what went on behind the scenes of the beloved March family, and America’s favorite fictional authoress.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Why did Jo not write the truth about Beth? Explain her thinking toward the end of the book.
  2. Why is Mr. March away? How does this shape Jo’s understanding of her parents’ marriage? What does she see that changes this?
  3. What does Laurie have planned for New York? How does it go wrong?
  4. How does Laurie insult Jo when she rejects his proposal?
  5. How does Hat help Jo understand her own feelings for Laurie? What does she do that helps make things “right”?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
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