Kit's Reviews > Mary Ingalls on Her Own

Mary Ingalls on Her Own by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard
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Jun 22, 08

Read in June, 2008

If you, like me, read the Little House books thinking of Mary as a goody-two-shoes (the outrage when she gave her share of the beads to Carrie, forcing Laura to do the same! Poor Laura couldn't even have a blue dress, because Mary was the one who was blond!), chances are you, like me, will be wondering how someone could pull off writing a whole book from Mary's point of view. The answer is: pretty well, actually.

The bar is high for Little House continuers, but most of them elect to write books set either in the future (with Laura's daughter Rose as a character) or the past (Laura's ma or even grandmother as a girl). This book covers Mary's experience in her first few months at the school for the blind where she enrolls after the events of The Long Winter. There isn't any historical evidence about Mary's own life in this period except the detail that she graduated with high grades eight years after she started. But the details about the school and coursework are accurate thanks to histories of the school itself.

Mary comes across as a believable character who seems outwardly like the Mary we see in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, while having an inner life of her own. Occasionally the book veers into psychodrama that's probably out of character; some people in that era might have been into processing their feelings for emotional health, but I don't imagine that idea had made it to DeSmet, South Dakota, where people were busier keeping from freezing and starving. On the whole, though, for someone who took on a very tough job, the author pulled it off better than I expected.
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message 1: by Carre (new)

Carre Gardner My daughter's reading the Little House books right now. Maybe I'll put this on a list to pick up next time I'm in the States. I've always thought there must be more to Mary than met the eye! I have no doubt she was good to the core, but I'll bet it wasn't easy for her to get that way and stay that way.


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