Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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It’s been a long time since I’ve read a young adult novel (other than Harry Potter, which doesn’t count), so when I picked up Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women this week, I was at first taken aback by the rosy, generic moral lessons within it. As I began, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it, since it’s a reread for me. Besides, I had this idea that I’d outgrown it. I was wrong.

At first the moral lessons were a bit silly to me. For example, when the girls want a holiday week, without any chores, their mother agrees and lets them, knowing they will learn their lesson. Sure enough, by the end of the week, they are ready for chores again! If only lessons are really learned that way.

By the middle, though, I was finding myself relating to the teen angst as the girls began courting and dealing with each other and their life dreams. They plan their “castles in the air” for what they want to be doing in ten years, when they are between twenty-two and twenty-seven. (That’s where I am right now. It does not seem that old.)

As I was reading Little Women, I really found myself enjoying the story, as childish and “rosy” as it is. Then, during a scene when a character marries, I had a moment of bizarre realization: I’m not one of them. I’m already married. I have a baby. How am I relating to these girls?

I think what makes Little Women a classic novel is the universal themes. The oldest, Meg, wants to be a lady and be elegant and beautiful, even in the midst of her family’s poverty; Jo struggles to control her anger; Beth struggles with shyness; and Amy is completely self-absorbed. Surely these are themes we all deal with throughout our lives! I recommend this book to any teenage girl–and to the rest of us as well!

Reviewed on April 28, 2008

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I wanted to like this book. I never read it as a kid, and read it for the first time in January, and it drove me crazy. It took me nearly a month to finish it. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the Winona Ryder movie too many times. Or maybe it was all those generic morality lessons and the fact that no one seemed real. I didn’t hate the book, I just thought it was bland. I did a review on my own blog (not 5-Squared, which didn’t exist yet) and my general thoughts were that it was like the Kraft Mac-n-Cheese of literature – some people like it, some hate it, some prefer real mac-n-cheese, etc. Anyway, I had fun with the analogy. 🙂

  • @Amanda: I never really liked it as a kid. I had a hard time getting through it and it seemed “fake.” When I picked it up this year, reading it as a reminder before I read March (which is based on the characters), I did like it. Reading it as an adult reminded me of the the somewhat carefree days of being a kid when “worries” are all about the wrong things.

    I like the mac-and-cheese analogy!

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