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Jo & Laurie #1

Jo & Laurie

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Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo's desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart's desire or lose the love of her life forever?

384 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2020

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About the author

Margaret Stohl

95 books5,994 followers
Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times, PW, USA Today, LA Times and Internationally bestselling co-author or author of twelve books, including the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES NOVELS, the DANGEROUS CREATURES NOVELS, the ICONS NOVELS, MARVEL'S BLACK WIDOW NOVELS, ROYCE ROLLS & CATS VS ROBOTS THIS IS WAR (forthcoming!) She writes the MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL comic for Marvel Comics (ongoing) and has contributed to countless videogames; currently, she is a Narrative Director at Bungie.

From the author:

Goodreads Peeps! Please note I no longer review the books on my shelf, "stars"-wise. I do list books I read, and they're all automatically marked as 5 stars. That's because a) I don't list books that I didn't like enough to finish and b) I didn't want to delete the ratings I had already given. If I particularly love a book and feel inclined to comment, you'll still see the comments here. Sadly, I have to ask: please don't reproduce these comments on book jackets, websites, or in any other medium for the marketing of books. They're only meant for fellow goodreaders. Thanks so much!


Writing has gotten me in and out of trouble since I was 15 (back then, mostly just in trouble.) For 10 years, I designed &/or wrote for lots of video games, one of which was nominated for “Most Innovative Game Design,” but I lost to a rapping onion. If you know games you get why my two bad beagles are named Zelda and Kirby.

School: I spent more years in it than a person ever should, because let’s face it, reading books is so much better than having a job. I fell in love with American literature at Amherst and Yale, earned an MA in English from Stanford, and studied creative writing under the late great poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I taught Intro to Film as a TA at Yale and Romantic Poetry as a TA at Stanford. Don’t tell the people at Yale but sometimes I taught the section before I’d seen the movie it was about...

I live in Santa Monica, CA, with my family, most of whom were enslaved into working with me in one form or another on my first YA book for Little, Brown. I’m not kidding; when my daughters wanted to go to school I said “Why are you so selfish? Get back in there and edit,” and by said I mean yelled and maybe threw things, it’s all a haze. Now the Beautiful series has wrapped, but you can see the movie on February 13, 2013 or read my new book ICONS on May 7th. Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy.

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5 stars
1,339 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,135 reviews
Profile Image for Shifty Reads.
420 reviews32 followers
March 18, 2020
If everyone can rate this one star without reading it, I will rate it 5 stars. Why is this wrong? It's just fiction, really. I read about books with Romeo ending up with Roselina, The prince ending up with a reedemed Stepsister, Christine ending up with the Phantom of the Opera... REALLY NOW. This book is not saying THIS IS HOW THE STORY SHOULD HAVE ENDED, just explores the possibility of what if.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews113 followers
Shelved as 'no'
January 26, 2020
i miss ten seconds ago when i didn't know this existed
Profile Image for Ann.
148 reviews7 followers
Want to read
February 10, 2020
Sounds like it could be fun, I dunno. Let's actually read it before we judge it, ey? Peeps need to chill out and stop 1-starring this just cuz they dislike the idea of it.
Profile Image for Gretal.
639 reviews69 followers
January 26, 2020
it's 2020, let's not shove a gal who is clearly not attracted to men together with her childhood guy friend come on
Profile Image for Olivia (LivTheBookNerd).
614 reviews112 followers
Shelved as 'never'
November 17, 2021
*This isn’t a review and has never been advertised as one. This is a blog post and is chock full of my opinions based on my academic research on LMA’s books & the 20+ times I read Little Women through these 24 years of my life. Read at your own risk I guess because people are still messaging me about this and sending me rude emails about the opinion I’m allowed to have*

Initial thoughts upon reading the synopsis for the first time: ABSOLUTELY NOT! TAKE IT BACK!

Not only is this complete LW sacrilege *insert academic swoon*, but it’s also a massive F-you to the queen that is Louisa May Alcott.
This fanfic should never have left the drafts. This completely screws over Jo, her autonomy, and completely undoes the point that LMA made by asserting Jo’s independence and desire to find who was right for her.


Jo and Laurie are best friends and if they became something more they would KILL each other. They’re too similar and headstrong. Laurie wanted the quintessential wife who would adore him and dote upon him. Jo questions people —especially her bff Laurie—way to much to be that person for Laurie. They would be miserable!

Take this travesty back please.

(The authors are very nice people and I wholly respect them as writers and people, but they didn’t respect LMA when writing this. Do some contextual research surrounding the novel, analyze the characters and their mannerisms, and please look into the nuances surrounding gender roles during the civil war.)

Edit: I am not bashing on the authors or their ability to write. I’m not bashing on anyone who WANTS to read this book. If you think this concept is what you want to read, more power to you. As someone who adores LMA, her characters, and the intent and history behind her story, I cannot get behind this book and that’s my opinion and choice.

Edit pt 2: Again, I’m not bashing the authors. They are very talented and they and their publishers can publish whatever they want. This ^^^ is purely my opinion as a fan of LMA. I am not retracting my opinion or my original passion towards it. While reading it now a few months later I find my wording and very adamant assertions to be quite amusing, I still agree with the sentiment. There are plenty of books that are retellings and reimaginings. That’s fantastic and that’s completely delightful. However, the premise of this reimagining just doesn’t sit right with me. I can’t get behind it and I don’t plan on reading it. If you want to read it or you have read it, that’s wonderful. I hope you enjoyed it or had a lot of fun thoughts about it. That’s the whole point of reading. *insert fist bump* However, I’m sticking to my opinions and I’m not going to read it.

** This isn’t a review and never was a review. I had friends sending me this book and they wanted to know my thoughts on it. ^^^ There they are. They are posted and shared. I’m allowed to share opinions on books on Goodreads. I’m not tanking the review score by posting my review. If I were to rate this book 1 Star, that would negatively impact their page. I’m not an ass. I appreciate the comments and emails.**

Edit #3 because I'm still getting more messages and stuff:

LMA specifically wrote Jo & Laurie's friendship as it was because she was defying the restricting ideals placed upon men and women during that time. Each of the March girls approaches relationships differently and their lives result differently because of that. By writing the girls as they were, LMA showed young girls that they can grow up to be different kinds of women, rather than the very limited options they were given. Jo's marriage to Bhaer and her search for authorship and independence was incredibly new and daring for a woman. Her publishers (back in the day) frequently approached LMA to restrict Jo back to their gender norms in order to bring in more readers (those who wanted the limitations on women). As an early feminist and suffragette, LMA sought for the expansion of thought surrounding women's lives. She shared her worldview through her stories. Her women were complex, thoughtful, and REAL.

-Jo wanted independence, authorship, and eventually, she settled down. She was an older bride and she and her husband didn't pursue the same kind of marriage that society expected. They were poor, they wanted to educate children, and they eventually had one son, but having children wasn't their priority. They loved each other and they loved kids and wanted to enrich children's' lives through education and love in Little Men.
-Meg wanted to be a wife. There isn't anything wrong with that. She didn't want to work hard and be a career woman. She wanted children, a home to tend, and husband to dote upon. That's her personality. Additionally, she desired the lavish sort of life, but she overcame her envy and selfishness in the second part of Little Women.
-Beth wanted to be a daughter. Many believe she didn't really think she'd live as long as her sisters. She was always a little sickly, but when she did get sick -- she knew that she wouldn't be too long for the world and she wanted to live her life enjoying the things she loved. She was quiet, a homebody, and she didn't really like new people. She was a caretaker. She fully expected to be the sister to take care of her parents when they grew old.
-Amy always defied expectations too. She's vain, loves the lavish lifestyle, and she wanted to make a career for herself as an artist. During that time, you had to have money and connections to do well in the arts. However, as a woman she knew she would never have the choice to own her ambition, have autonomy when she was married, and when she would have children, she would not have the authority to keep her children and declared them as her own. As a married woman, she did not own herself. She would be her husband's possession. This was touched on in the latest film, but Amy knew that to maintain the life she wanted -- to fund her ambition and passion -- she would have to marry rich. She did this to improve her life, to care for her family, and to find what joy she could in life. When I was younger, I didn't like her selfish, vain attitude and I didn't understand her at all. Now I do. I love Amy. Full stop.

I love all of the March women. Don't get me started on Aunt Josephine and Marmee.

Additionally, in the book, Laurie has created a fictionalized ideal for Jo. He's projected his own desires and wants for his future onto Jo -- thus taking away her own choice in the matter. While he didn't do it intentionally, it took him time to reflect and actually *see* Jo for who she is and wants to be. It took him time to actually understand his own biases and desires for his future. By letting Jo go (not as a friend, but as the woman he wants to marry), he can see who she is, who he is without her and with her, and what kind of woman he wants to settle down with.

If Jo and Laurie had gotten together it wouldn't have been a happy, joyful marriage. They would be at each others' throats. They wouldn't be happy and their original friendship would have never been the same. To write a story that fully encapsulates the nuances behind their relationship, the history and gender roles established during that time, the change that LMA had instilled in her character building and world-building would be a hard project to take under. While I fully respect the skill and desires of the authors -- I still believe this book is published fanfiction -- I don't want to read it. I don't have to read it. I've explained my reasoning above AT LENGTH. I'm not bashing on anyone that wants to read it. I'm not REVIEWING this book at all. This is my reasoning why I don't want to read it. Hop off my butt and just read the damn book if you want because I DON'T CARE IF YOU DO! This is my space to say what I feel. This is my platform to record my thoughts and if you feel triggered by what I've said above, come to me with constructive comments/questions/inquiries and stop invalidating my researched knowledge and opinions. I'd love to discuss this book with others -- Little Women that is -- but I refuse to entertain hateful and unconstructive conversation. Come to me with respect and love because I'm definitely not attacking people who actually read the book. This entire thing is just silly.
Profile Image for Kaya.
364 reviews64 followers
July 4, 2020
I am a HUGE fan of Little Women. I’ve read the book countless times, and, well, y’all know all about my obsession with the movie already. So obviously I was really excited, yet slightly nervous about this, and know the story very well!

The second thing I wanted to talk about is the fact that people are prejudiced against this book without even reading it. This isn’t mere fanfiction, nor a simple retelling. The storyline itself takes place in between part one and part two, and even the characters feel more like Louisa May Alcott and her family, and less like attempts at paralleling the originals. So, I think that the Goodreads rating* should currently be taken with a grain of salt, because many people are rating it one star without just cause.

*if you’re like me, then you rely on goodreads WAY too much. goodreads basically controls my life. what a dystopian novel that would be, come to think of it.

Jo is both the Jo we know and love, and also how I’d imagine Louisa May Alcott to be. She’s struggling with writing the sequel to Little Women, while dealing with the grief of losing her sister Beth.

"Who knew a heart could break open so expansively? Who knew whole kingdoms-with no master, no queen, no governance, obedient to no rule of law, accountable to no country custom, unruly to all logic whatsoever- could rise in a heartless wake?"

Laurie STILL HAS MY WHOLE HEART AND SOUL. He’s still the clever, kind, snarky, passionate boy from the novel. However, we get to see from his perspective, and we watch him struggle with his (seemingly) unreciprocated feelings for Jo.

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Marmie is Mama Abba, a small change that Jo had made for purposes of her book. Amy and Meg are familiar but not total copycats of their doppelgangers in Little Women. And that is a small piece of the genius of this novel. Somehow, the authors took beloved, familiar characters, and managed to make them their own.

The plot itself is brilliantly woven with small references to the events that happened in the original story, and little twists of unique ideas. We get to see *certain* relationships develop, and I was never bored reading it!

and oh. the romance of it all.

You might be thinking “well duh, this is a historical ROMANCE. Don’t be so surprised”. And you’re probably right, but that didn’t stop me from being shocked at how easily I fell in love with how adorably awkward the two main characters are. One of the lines that has totally stuck with me concerning Jo and Laurie’s tale is the phrase:
"the greatest love story never told."

Am I the only one crying in a corner…? Seriously, their chemistry was always off-the-charts. And it’s no different here, where Jo can’t realize her feelings and Laurie is tortured by the knowledge of his own. IT’S ALL TOO GOOD FOR WORDS.

I would recommend this for fans of all who adore Little Women, and honestly just historical romance in general because AH the feels!

That’s it! This was a bit of a longer one but I would wholeheartedly recommend giving this a chance, because IT’S SO GOOD. It is a story that’s thrilling in its originality, yet comforting in its familiarity. It’s a story I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to read!

4.5 stars


“the greatest love story never told.”

this is one of my new favorite retellings. so different, yet so familiar. full rtc!

thank you to penguin teen for the arc via netgalley , in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Grace Mullins.
Author 2 books79 followers
Want to read
May 25, 2020
Many years ago I was a preteen who HATED that Laurie and Jo did not end up together. So shut up and take my money cause I need a fluffy retelling like this after over a decade of still being heartbroken.
January 27, 2020
Let's complete disrespect Louisa May Alcott's intention in writing Jo as a strong character who chose whomever she knew was best for her, let's take her agency as a woman just so you can sell your fanfic...
As a fanfic writer myself, I'm here to tell you this should have never left FF.net or AO3...
Maybe it should have stayed in the drafts!
Count me completely out of it!
Profile Image for Stacey.
613 reviews18 followers
Want to read
January 27, 2020
So this just completely ignores the fact Laurie married Amy?
Profile Image for Sue (BeautyBookCorner).
425 reviews57 followers
August 11, 2020
I cannot wait for this!! I totally respect Laurie and Amy but I’m also completely down to read about a Jo and Laurie ship because little Sue was heartbroken when I first read LW and realized they weren’t getting together. Let me dream!

Maybe I’m just a romantic but I’ve never had trouble shipping characters both canon and otherwise. Hermione and Ron? Yes. Hermione and Draco? Hell yes. Draco and Harry? Sure. Alina and the Darkling? Hot. Alina and Mal? Perfection.

So I finished the book, and I loved it! Now since this is a retelling of the classics and with the title of the book being what it is, I think it’s safe to say that we know Jo and Laurie will get together. I mean isn’t that why the authors wrote the story? And I’m so glad, because I felt the execution of the story was wonderfully done.

I had two concerns before reading the book and I can confidently say that I had no reason for concern as the authors did a fabulous job. My first concern was that the language used would be too modern. While it is certainly more modern than the original language used in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, it still feels very much a historical fiction. The narration and dialogue both had a great balance of feeling classic but also just modern enough that it made for a quick fun read.

My second concern was that Amy would be portrayed in a negative light. No issues there. The authors really captured how much Jo loves her family and how much she wants the very best for her sisters both in their fictional and real lives.

Jo the author, Jo the person
I loved that the authors chose to tell Jo’s story between the publication of Little Women and Good Wives (or Little Women Pt. 2). It created the perfect space to explore what Jo (and Louisa May Alcott) was going through in trying to create a satisfying conclusion for all the characters in her book that feels true to herself, her character’s journeys while also fulfilling her editor’s (and by extension the public readers) wishes. This was especially clear when she struggled how to conclude fictional Jo and fictional Beth’s stories. We see why Jo made the decisions she did for Good Wives.

CW: Depression, Suicide Ideation
Another aspect I appreciated about the story was the references to Jo’s “dark moods,” which I attribute to depression. There is a moment where she talks about feeling like the darkness was taking over and how she even thought about letting it swallow her. As the primary breadwinner, she has a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She is also still grieving heavily over the death of Beth. Grief over a loved one can still hit so strong even if years pass so I related to the descriptions the authors used for Jo’s grief and depression.

As far as the romance between Jo and Laurie. It was everything I wished it to be. I loved Laurie’s angst and longing, and Jo’s slow realization of how much she does love Laurie. The romance is drawn out a little bit long, but I think it makes sense considering Jo’s personality. I also just adored all the fun moments between them. Their witty banter and teasing just made me smile. Along with Jo and Laurie’s romance, we get to see a lot of Meg and John’s romantic development, which was a delight to read.

Overall, this was a fantastic book if you are a fan of the original. Obviously, if you were shipping Jo and Laurie you will love this. I think if you were happy with the original ending and you are a fan of Little Women, you may still enjoy this as I felt the authors captured the spirit of the original and portrayed the characters’ personalities and motivations well.

** Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an arc to review.
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books479 followers
June 27, 2020

Odd one out over here.

I really loved this. Idgaf 🤷‍♀️
Profile Image for Isabel.
243 reviews31 followers
February 8, 2020
THE UTTER DISRESPECT. Leave Jo fucking be.
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,148 reviews774 followers
Shelved as 'to-buy'
June 29, 2020
Oooh la la!!! This seems amazing! There has always been a part of me that wished for Jo and Laurie to have ended up together though I love his love with Amy but Jo is special!

Profile Image for Lauren (thebookscript).
664 reviews253 followers
August 3, 2020
When I first read the original "Little Women" by Alcott, my heart was broken in two by Jo and Laurie's relationship. I shipped them HARD. Once I got into the acceptance stage of my grief I fell in love with the newly adapted movie and all the relationships and the growth between the sisters and love interests. BUT I was thrilled to jump into another parallel universe in which Jo and Laurie could possibly end up together.

The language and the characters felt true to the original story. I was wrapped up in the relationships and loved that we got multiple perspectives from Meg and Laurie and Jo. Jo is still the obstinate, stubborn girl we love. I still get frustrated with her inability to believe people want to live lives other than she sees fit for them, and fails to see what is right in front of her.

Some people believe love takes away a part of you, but in reality I think to love and to give your heart to someone is one of the bravest things of all. I believe this book captures that.

Laurie had a "feeling of longing and belonging, all tied up together at once, in a way that somehow contradicted and completed itself. It didn't seem real or even possible, but there it was, every time he saw the Marches. What was the word for that? But as soon as he wondered he knew....Home." The family we choose, not the one given to us by birth..

One of the most lovely books I've read this year and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it a fellow Little Women fan who is up for an alternate ending. A story full of heart, love and longing and a lot of growing up.

Add this to your summer list!

Thank you to Penguin Teen for the opportunity to read and review this one. I will eventually be purchasing a copy of my own. 4.5 STARS
Profile Image for SophiAnn.
224 reviews3 followers
May 4, 2020
Okay, I want to start this review with just mentioning that this book is getting an unnecessary amount of hate because of what it's about. The Goodreads rating has been going down because people who haven't read it are rating it! If this isn't your cup of tea, no problem, but I'm here to judge the book on the content, not just on the idea. Personally, I thought this book was cute. Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz both know how to write a solid book, so I didn't think there were any glaring issues with it. I think that's it's an interesting reimagining of the ending (and beyond) of Little Women. Stohl and de la Cruz, in my opinion, make the characters their own enough that people who haven't read Little Women will be able to enjoy this. While I liked Laurie and Amy getting together in the source material, I didn't mind the changes made here. However, this book did drag a little bit. It wasn't anything groundbreaking or lifechanging, but I didn't think it was supposed to be. Overall, I think that this was a light, fun, and cute read that a lot of YA readers will be extremely happy with!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Brogan Lane.
441 reviews150 followers
September 19, 2020
Regardless of one's opinions on this book's whole concept, one has to admit that this is a good book. If you subtract Jo and Laurie's romance, you are left with a narrative and a writing style that mirrors Louisa May Alcott's.

I was thoroughly shocked by how well Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz captured Little Women's tone, humour, the March family dynamic, the language, the setting and the characters. It was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. As soon as I read the first page, I knew where I was. I was in Concord, Massachusetts. At the Orchard House with the Marches. I was home. Can one feel at home in a place where they've never been before? Jo & Laurie made that possible.

"The only thing I'm married to are my books."

I feel like a lot of readers of Little Women relate to Jo March the most out of all the March sisters - and I do, too. She is passionate, fierce, protective of those she loves, and emotional, but who struggles to voice her feelings and accept her emotions. She is a writer. I am a writer. In Jo & Laurie, she was experiencing a serious case of writer's block after finishing and publishing her first novel. I read this book at the right time I think because after finishing my dissertation for university, I've been dealing with intense writer's block for months. Her journey throughout this book, through sadness, happiness, pain, love - it was beautiful - and how she slowly and gradually gained the confidence and courage to write again just spoke to me on another level. Reading books that feature a writer and their struggles just really touches my heart - because writing is far from easy.

"Because of the letters that come addressed to you, by the hundreds. Because of the way your little sister speaks of you when you aren't there to see it. Because of all the other little sisters - the ones you'll never know or meet - who you've made believe they could tell a story of their own."

That quote brought tears to my eyes. Wow, Marmee just always says the right things.

'He is my person. Everyone needs a person, and he is mine.'

Let's address the romance aspect of this book. The whole point of me purchasing this book was because of the romance between Laurie and Jo. Little Women does not address romance as they're young and I loved how wholesome and fun that book was, but Good Wives was a big disappointment for me. I knew what was going to happen as I'd watched multiple adaptations beforehand, but the written word was so boring and I loathed it. For one, LMA didn't really develop Laurie and Amy's romantic relationship so their sudden engagement felt ridiculous and I didn't really like Mr Bhaer and felt his and Jo's relationship was also rushed. The logical outcome was for Jo and Laurie to marry in the end. Stohl and de la Cruz address this, even mentioning in an author's note at the end that LMA's audience at the time wrote to her over and over, telling her that they wished for her to marry Jo to Laurie. And LMA said: 'I won't marry Jo to Laurie for anything.' And why? As I learnt, the March family are based off Louisa May Alcott's family and life. Her sister Elizabeth, like Beth, died of Scarlet Fever, her sister May, like Amy, trained and became a successful painter, and her other sister, Anna, like Meg, married a poor man. So, our beloved Jo was Louisa. And Louisa never married. Like Jo in this book, her editor forced her to have all the March sisters marry by the end because then it wouldn't be scandalous and would sell more. Not marrying for a woman was bad and Spinsterhood was nothing to be proud of. Now knowing perhaps a reason for her decisions, Jo & Laurie was, and is still, a fun, harmless book that explores the 'what if' on a lot of readers' minds.

I loved it.
It's one of my favourites.
Profile Image for Ishi Time.
188 reviews121 followers
June 2, 2020
I received an ARC of this book from Penguin Teen through NetGalley!

I have neither read Little Women, nor have I watched it, and as embarrassing as it is, I don't know what it is about either. My review is not based on how accurately I think the original story and characters transfer over into this book, but on how I enjoyed this book as a whole, independent of anything else.

Overall, I enjoyed this book―it was wholesome and cute! I found it really easy to read and it flowed really well. Considering that this book has two authors, I didn't think there was any noticeable change of tone in the narration.

The reason I really liked the book was because of the characters. I loved Jo, her relationship with her sisters, and her personality. She is a writer struggling to write a second volume of her book after the first was a huge success. As a female author, she battles for her right to write what she wants; she always has to succumb to what is expected of her by her publishers and readers. Though I face none of the prejudices of the time, I do relate to her as she is going about writing and thinking about her plot. I loved Laurie as well. I've always enjoyed the childhood-friends-to-lovers trope so I was really rooting for them throughout the book! I loved Meg and Brooke as well!

I won't include many details, but some of my favourite scenes were when the three sisters talk about possible plots while sitting in Vegetable Valley, the church picnic, and the last conversation between Laurie and Harriet.

There are a couple things I think could have been done better. One is the pacing. Weeks could go by in the matter of paragraphs, but a good half chunk of the book takes place during the week they spent in New York. Also, Brooke is considered to be an intimate part of the group of 4 (Jo, Laurie, Meg, and Brooke). It's said several times that the 4 of them were close and could finish each other's sentences. Though I see that's very true of Jo, Laurie, and Meg, I don't think that was true of Brooke at all. He seemed to be more on the outskirts to me.

Another thing I had a problem with was Jo's view on marriage. Though I understood why she didn't want it for herself, to support women means to support their decisions, even if they might be different from your own.

Other than those three things, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others :)
Profile Image for K.C. Nicola.
Author 3 books21 followers
Shelved as 'not-interested'
October 23, 2020
(My initial review for this book was driven by a hasty and uninformed decision, so I am removing it. Nonetheless, what with my backlog and all, I'm unlikely to read this book in the foreseeable future.)
Profile Image for Ruby Teresa.
26 reviews3 followers
April 1, 2020

I consider myself a pretty hardcore little women fan, as in like i have a vintage copy, sobbed my eyes out the first time I read the whole book, and consider the recent adaptation one of my favorite movies of all time. I come from a family of four girls after all.

so whilst I do agree with many, many reviews on here stating that canon Jo should not be with Laurie, this is not canon Jo. It's a completely different character.

therefore, I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would.

there are many notable differences in this in comparison to the actual little women, ones that make Laurie and Jo slightly more plausible. though I do wish the authors had worked out their conflicting characteristics a little more before pinning Jo and Laurie together.

but alas, I have very few complaints. it was very entertaining. i myself was anxious to see the two characters get together, even though i knew that was obviously how the story was going to end. like many books i enjoy, i do not believe it is the pinnacle of wonderful fiction, but i do think it's a fun little story for anyone who loves little women.

anyways, i give it four stars. i had fun, and got a rather pure romance, and that was honestly all i wanted from this story.
Profile Image for Ilhaam.
315 reviews237 followers
June 2, 2020
Thank you so much to MBC books for sending me an ARC.

“Because of all the other little sisters- the ones you’ll never know or meet- who you’ve made believe they could tell a story on their own.”

I grew up reading classics like Little Women and The Secret Garden and Heidi. So when I say that I think these authors did an amazing job of this retelling, I mean it. They captured the vibe of Louisa’s writing perfectly, it honestly didn’t even feel much like a retelling and felt a lot like it could have act been the works of the real author. Just,,the vibes were immaculate.

Let’s talk about Jo & Laurie. Of course, like the general public I was never really a Jo & Laurie shipper and I don’t think I’ll really ever ship them in Little Women. But here, Melissa and Margaret really truly did something. They made Jo & Laurie Jo & Laurie in a way that not many people could have done this well. Without giving their actual relationship much screen time, I still felt like I knew how they grew together and how I knew, just like the other March sisters knew, that they would inevitably end up together. I don’t know if it was the watering hole or the inside jokes or the way Laurie just knew her, inside out and upside down, but it was perfect. And in the end when they became JoandLaurie I was so happy.

And one more thing we HAVE to talk about. The emphasis placed on the sister bond. Obviously it’s really important in Louisa’s actual book but here it was just as good. Everytime a book character has a good relationship with their siblings my heart goes💞 because it’s so precious i honestly can’t. As someone who has a younger sister I felt like Jo’s relationship with Amy was done so well. The perfect blend of frustration and love. And Meg. So so cute.

The only thing I didn’t love about this book was that we glossed over Jo’s trauma regarding Beth a little bit in the end. I feel like it would’ve been easier to connect with her if we’d explored that further in the book.

All in all this book was such a heartwarming, cute read that it kind of made me want to read some more historical fiction🥳. If you’re a fan of classics or Little Women id highly encourage you to pick this up!

(It also definitely didn’t hurt that I pictured Laurie as Timothee Chalamet the entire time🌝)
Profile Image for ˗ˏˋ janet ˊˎ˗.
164 reviews40 followers
Shelved as 'do-not-support'
April 1, 2020
jo is not attracted to males say it with me !!!!
Profile Image for Makenna.
54 reviews
June 1, 2021
This book was just eh. I was super excited leading up to it because Jo & Laurie should have ended up together, but this didn’t do their relationship justice. It was boring and I had a hard time getting through it. Almost 300 pages were just set to developing the characters in Little Women and setting them up for the plot of this book. The authors’ seemed to get better with writing Jo & Laurie’s romance as the book went on, but it really just wasn’t up to Louisa May Alcott’s standards. The last 60 pages were okay and had more of Jo and Laurie, but I still had a hard time getting through them. Anyways, I liked the ending. So, I would have given this 2 stars if the ending wasn’t as good as it was. In the end, I’m a little bit disappointed at this little story. It isn’t what I hoped for.
Profile Image for Amanda.
364 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2020
Wonderful and heart-warming novel that takes place immediately following the end of Little Women. It re-imagines some of the events of Little Women and gives the reader a chance to revisit the characters. It's labeled a YA book but I would recommend it for Little Women fans of any age.
Profile Image for E.F.B..
406 reviews
December 31, 2022
I truly had no idea what to expect from this book, and barely even knew what I hoped to feel about it. When I read Little Women for the first time in 2019, I hadn't paid that much attention to any talk I'd heard about the story over the years and didn't know all the "spoilers" so I was a little surprised when Jo and Laurie didn't end up together. It didn't break my heart, but I'd honestly thought that's where the story was going. Since then, I've come to understand and appreciate why Louisa May Alcott wrote things the way she did, and even to feel that she was right that the pair shouldn't be together and that Professor Bhaer was a more prudent match. (The story of "Little Men" which I discovered more recently and also really liked, wouldn't have been the same at all with Laurie as Jo's husband, I'm just saying.)

But I was still curious to see if this book might convince me that Jo and Laurie could have had a future together, so I finally decided to give it a try as my last book to read this year.

There were ways that I was pleasantly surprised by this story. First of all, it was interesting that this story looks at the characters as if they were the real people that Jo's fictional story of "Little Women" was based upon. The authors did a really good job of making Jo, Meg, and Amy feel like themselves while also showing the differences between them and their "fictionalized" versions. I also enjoyed their reactions to the fictionalized happenings, like Meg reacting to getting married in the book when she's not married in "real life" only to discover the real man actually is a nice guy and then falls in love with him "for real."

Given that I thought the authors were going to rewrite Little Women's story to make Jo and Laurie end up together, I actually felt that this was a good way to go about it without disrespecting or changing the original narrative in any way. As they state in the historical note at the end, the authors drew some inspiration from Louisa May Alcott's real life for Jo's new story, but they also didn't copy it outright, which, again, I was glad of and felt was definitely the best choice for a "What if" story like this.

As for the actual romance between Jo and Laurie, though? Eeeeeeeh. I didn't despise it, but I also never got behind it, either. Like I said above, after my initial surprise that the pair didn't end up together in the original, I ultimately decided they were better off with other people, and this book still had me feeling that way. On one hand, I could understand the two falling in love with each other given their similarities and being best friends for so long. Also, Jo's personality was altered somewhat for this story so that I felt like she might genuinely come to love Laurie. BUT.

Laurie still came off as a whiner-baby to me, just like in the original. If he couldn't have Jo, then he wouldn't have anybody, and he hoped she never found another great love, either. I know that heartbreak hurts, but if you love someone, and I mean REALLY love them with the unselfish, sacrificial attitude that marks REAL, ABIDING LOVE, the you don't sit around hoping that another person can't be happy or have a good life without you. And the thing is, if I'd seen Laurie change his heart attitude so that he could be happy without Jo and also be happy for her even if she didn't end up with HIM then I might have been able to get behind them finally getting together. One reason I thought he and Amy worked in the original was that she brought out a maturity in him that he didn't have with Jo. Had that maturation happened here, Jo could have seen this new maturity in him and fallen in love with that. But I never saw it, at least not enough of it to make me feel this relationship would be healthy long-term. Even at the end, as they admit their love for each other, he's still saying that if he can't have her, he'll just wander the world alone and miserable and I just... I can't. I can't get behind such immaturity, and I think Jo deserved better. Even this (otherwise fun and well-written) story can't convince me otherwise, so I really didn't get joyful feelings from the ending, and that's why I have to go with 2.5 stars for my rating. There were things this book did well, but for me, it did not achieve its ultimate goal of convincing me that Jo and Laurie were meant for each other, and in fact, it did the opposite.

To end on a more positive note, though, I really did think the writing style of this book was good. I wasn't expecting it to be so easy to stay engaged, but it was, and I'll repeat that the *feel* of the novel was right, even if I didn't agree with the ultimate conclusion. I'll also say that this book was refreshingly clean for a modern, secular YA novel, so that was a plus.

If you always felt that Jo and Laurie were meant for each other, then this is a perfectly decent bit of wish fulfillment that you'll probably enjoy. It just didn't convince me.

Content Advisory:



D**n is used in various forms about 10 times throughout the book.

Not a swear, but Jo uses "Christopher Columbus" as an exclamation of surprise many times.


Laurie tells the March sisters about swimming naked (no details) in Italy specifically to elicit blushes.

While swimming together, there's mention of Laurie's wet shirt sticking to his skin (no description beyond the statement of fact) and Jo looking away, suddenly uncomfortable.

As one would expect from a romance, there's plenty of blushing and sweet romantic attraction between characters throughout, and talk of romance in the girls' "real life" as well as in Jo's book, but it all stays within the realm of what one already finds in Little Women, so if you're fine with the talk of romance in the original classic, you won't encounter any uncomfortable surprises here.

The closest anything got to sensual was a moment where a jealous Laurie sees Jo dancing with another man and briefly envisions the guy "leaning over her pale throat and kissing her neck" but that's as far as his imaginings go.

The two major kisses between Jo and Laurie are described, but only briefly so.

Especially since the original classic has some pretty overt mentions of Christian faith and faith themes, I think it's worth mentioning that the faith elements are minimal here. There's just enough to stay faithful to the fact of the characters' Christian faith, but it never goes deeper than brief mentions of prayer, mostly in times of hardship, like when Amy gets sick and the family thinks she's going to die. (She doesn't.)
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,076 reviews104 followers
November 19, 2021
Although Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz do generally present a stylistically successful and well written narrative with their 2020 Little Women adaptation Jo & Laurie (with the featured text being from my quick skimming through Jo & Laurie both nicely descriptive and for the most part sufficiently historically accurate regarding time and place, regarding latter 19th century America, as well as also presenting a decent verbal flow and rhythm), sorry, but after realising that unlike with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Jo & Laurie actually ends with Stohl and de la Cruz having Jo and Laurie a couple and not with Jo marrying Professor Bhaer, I very quickly, totally and utterly lost all my reading interest and decided to quit, to abandon Jo & Laurie as a DNF. For yes, with regard to Little Women I have ALWAYS thought that Louisa May Alcott totally was being truthful and absolutely correct when she had Jo March refuse Laurie (Theodore Lawrence) and later give her heart to Friedrich Bhaer, and I am therefore and indeed rather flabbergasted and also majorly annoyed how many readers (and obviously also writers, also authors) do seem to think the opposite.

Now for me, I have always thought with Little Women (and also may I add just like Louisa May Alcott, it seems) that while Jo March and and Theodor Lawrence (Laurie) would and do make great friends, they would have made horrible and even intensely problematic lovers, and the concept that Laurie and Jo are far too similar in and with certain perhaps less than admirable parts of their personalities has always made perfect sense to me. For if Laurie and Jo had married, I do believe that their personalities would have clashed, and not because they are so different, but because they are so similar with regard to willfulness, stubbornness, desire and emotionality. And the professor, he in my opinion complements Jo and she complements him. Professor Bhaer calms her personality, even giving Jo’s writing a calming edge, while she, in turn, makes his own calm personality a bit more outgoing. And also, one has to think of the fact that from an academic standpoint, Jo and the Professor are actually much more complementary and complimentary than Laurie and Jo would and could ever have been. For throughout Little Women, Louisa May Alcott always textually demonstrates that Jo March thrives on writing, literature, education, something that Professor Bhaer also exibits, but something that Laurie only shows very marginally (mainly artistically and musically, and in this, he is actually much closer to Amy, and not Jo).

And yes, in particular from an artistic and societal point of view, Laurie and Amy suit one another and much more than Jo and Laurie would have or could have meshed. Yes, Louisa May Alcott might indeed have originally envisioned in Little Women for Jo to not have been married at all (and there are actually some critics who consider her love for her sister Beth, her devotion to her, lesbian, and while I most certainly do not, it is indeed a common thread in some secondary analyses). And then, when the publishers clamoured for Jo to also marry, it makes sense, at least to me, that Alcott had Jo not end up marrying Laurie, but Professor Bhaer, an older, more mature man perhaps, but also someone whose intellect, whose philosophy, whose education and ideas regarding education, corresponded to and with Jo. And indeed, I actually do think if hitched to Laurie, that Jo would not only have had too many heated battles and arguments with him, I firmly believe that she also would probably have found the life of relative social leisure that Laurie and Amy end up enjoying rather tedious, even monotonous in the long run, when compared to and with the life that Jo and the Professor end up creating/having with their school at Plumfied, as demonstrated and described in the two sequels for Little Women, in Little Men and Jo's Boys.

So I am obviously and as very much specifically shown above firmly with the Jo and Professor Bhaer crowd with regard to Little Women and as such also do usually find any adaptions of Little Women where the author or the authors do the opposite and have Jo and Laurie end up together pretty much annoying, frustrating and tedious and therefore generally also not worth my reading time. And while I do think that for readers who have always wanted Louisa May Alcott to have Little Women end with a Jo and Laurie alliance rather than with Jo marrying the professor (and even if I do have major issues both accepting and understanding this), Jo & Laurie would probably work very well, and that yes, Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz certainly do present a very engagingly even delightfully penned style of narration, for me, that the authors are clearly in the Jo and Laurie camp and have penned Jo & Laurie regarding this and ending with Jo and Laurie together as a couple, this thematic just bores me and frustrates me (and thus, only two stars for Jo & Laurie and a novel I truly do not feel like finishing, that I do not even feel like reading).

Finally, skimming through Jo & Laurie, I also noticed that the authors have Amy March getting very sick and nearly dying (and like with Beth this scenario occurring due to an infection caught once again from the impoverished Hummel family). And well, this (the German immigrants being shown as a threat, as a danger) combined with Jo not marrying her German professor (like she does in Little Women), well this does make me kind of wonder whether Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz might perhaps be harbouring some hidden anti German sentiments.
Profile Image for Libby Powell.
172 reviews25 followers
January 24, 2022
Little Women is one of my absolute favorite books, and I am so utterly content with how it ended for Jo and for Laurie. But. But... I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Laurie-Jo ship, and I have to admit, this charming retelling hit me just right. It has a lovely blend of humor and heart, weaving bits from both Little Women the story and Louisa May Alcott's actual life - a combination which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you do end up reading Jo & Laurie, don't expect that they'll be the same characters as they were in the original tale. They aren't. They're reimagined, and their story is their own. If that doesn't appeal to you, this novel probably won't be for you. But if you don't think that will bother you, and if you like wholesome novels with winsome characters, Jo & Laurie is as good as they come, and I don't think you'll regret giving it a try.
Profile Image for RumBelle.
1,768 reviews15 followers
November 2, 2020
I gave this such a low rating, because, for me personally, someone who has read Little Women countless times, I just simply didn't like this book at all.

This novel takes place after Jo has submitted the first book in what would be the two books that make up Little Women. Stohl and De La Cruz's novel reimagines the second half of Little Women.

The ending is, of course, a foregone conclusion. The book itself though, is not original, really repetitive and dull. Jo spends almost the entire book fretting and worrying and complaining about how she can't possibly write a sequel. It gets old, really fast. In addition, the writing is not very good. There is one paragraph where literally every sentence begins with the word freedom. Not original and not creative.

Much of the plot is unoriginal as well. The best example is Amy gets sick, and nearly dies, the same way Beth did, through exposure to the Hummels. You would think there would be a little more intelligence where the Hummels were concerned. This, to me, was when I knew that these two authors were being really lazy with this retelling.

Alcott wanted Jo to end up a certain way, when that was ignored, she wrote Jo an ending that fit her. A relationship with a professor, a learned man who understood Jo and would let her thrive her way. I love Baher, I always have, I never thought Jo and Laurie would have worked. Little Women ended the way it should have because that's how Alcott crafted it. Jo was always a strong character, who didn't need a man, but had one who was an equal. Her and Laurie were never suited, in that way.

I was ambiguous about this book from the start, but it was, in my view, not well done.
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