I think I need to preface this review by saying Little Women and Me was not for me. I definitely think there’ll be readers who’l...moreFrom Books and Threads
I think I need to preface this review by saying Little Women and Me was not for me. I definitely think there’ll be readers who’ll enjoy this romp through the classic nineteenth century novel, but I can’t count myself as one of them.
I try to take a book’s premise at face value – e.g. I don’t have a problem with the main character being sucked into a book, and I don’t feel the author needs to explain how this happened, but I greatly prefer the rules of the ‘magic’ stay consistent once they’re established. While Emily’s within Little Women, at times she remembers what’s going to happen next and at times she has ‘story amnesia’ and which happened when never seemed to have a reason beyond increasing tension. The original book characters also seem to have a difficult time remembering that Emily is there which was an intriguing idea but also frustrated me because again there didn’t seem to be any real consistency which happens when.
I’d have been able to overlook a lot of the above if I was more engaged with the main character. Emily never really gelled into a real ‘person’ for me. Instead - like some of the plot devices - I felt like Emily’s personality bent at the whim of the story. She was definitely amusing, and I especially enjoyed her observations about the nineteenth century and the March family as a whole. Her relationship with Beth was also incredibly sweet, but beyond that Emily seemed more inclined to chase boys (all the while declaring that she needed to change the book so Jo ended up with Laurie) than interact with either her real sisters or her March sisters in any meaningful way. Being self-centered isn’t anything new for a YA heroine, but that coupled what seemed like a complete lack of empathy (other than towards Beth), Emily never seemed to develop beyond this until her sudden realisation at the end of the book.
Reading the author’s notes, I saw that she had written the book by reading one chapter of Little Women and then writing one chapter of her book, and suddenly much of the book made more sense to me. Perhaps the author wished to have an episodic style, but while Little Women obviously has overarching themes and plot, Little Women and Me never seems to achieve that. Even Emily’s realization at the end of the book seemed out of nowhere, and I think the novel as a whole would have benefited from a more consistent dramatic arc to aid in both gradual character development and thematic structure.
There was a twist towards the end that made me laugh out loud, but when looking back at it, I still can’t see more than one indication that it was coming. I really love surprise twists where the framework is laid more consistently throughout the book. As it is, I’m left feeling like the author simply wished to throw a plot twist in the ending pages.
I’m seriously disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this book more. I’d been really excited to get the opportunity to read it – especially since Little Women is one of my favourite books. (Though I have to admit that I’m possibly the only reader ever who thinks that Jo marrying Laurie would be a terrible, terrible idea.) But unfortunately neither the book nor the characters lived up to my expectations. It may be that my love for the source book is standing in the way of a love for this one, but I don’t think so. I enjoyed the outsider’s perspective on the March family and their admittedly slightly insane way of life, and I enjoyed the idea that some of the family’s most charming traits for a reader would be incredibly annoying to a participant. What kept me from enjoying the book as a whole was an uneven structure and a frustration that the main character was never developed fully enough to love or hate.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for allowing me to read this! (less)