Jo & Laurie

 
3.5 (3)
 
0.0 (0)
424 0
Jo & Laurie
Age Range
13+
Release Date
June 02, 2020
ISBN
978-1984812018
Buy This Book
      
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?

Editor reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.5
Plot 
 
3.7  (3)
Characters 
 
3.3  (3)
Writing Style 
 
3.3  (3)
Interesting Re-Imagining of a Classic
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Jo March is less than pleased with her publisher, who has not only made her artificially sweeten her novel, but has saddled it with the diminutive title Little Women. Still, her family desperately needs money, since her father still has not returned from the war, since he is helping with Reconstruction in the South. In real life, Beth has died, although she was allowed to live in the book, and Jo is struggling with reconciling her family's real life with the fictional one that has garnered critical acclaim as well as a healthy fan base. Meg is not engaged, but is interested in Laurie's former tutor, but insists that she will marry a wealthy man in order to secure her family's finances. Amy is young and generally unhelpful. Jo struggles to write, and is glad of Laurie's friendship. When the two travel to New York, it is obvious that Laurie is interested in more of a romance, but Jo is not. Or is she? She tries to set him up with a wealthy socialite, and sets to work on her much anticipated second novel, but has to decide how she really feels about her long time friend.
Good Points
The authors are clearly fans of Alcott and do a fantastic job of including details from the books as well as making logical projections. Even the slow-paced style is reminiscent of the original books, although the language is modified somewhat for modern audiences. It was fun to go back to this world and see more of Jo's experience with being a published author. I was always more of a fan of Professor Bhaer, but there are a lot of Camp Laurie believers, and this will make them very happy.

Adapting older books to modern times sometimes adds layers to the characters that aren't there in the original, but I was really pleased with the handling of most of the situations. My only quibble was that there seemed to be a lot of travel back and forth to Boston and New York that seemed a little unusual for the March/Alcott family, but is within the realm of possibility.

I don't know how many middle and high school students read Little Women these days (in my library, it is very few!), but this is a good choice for fans IF they were disappointed that Jo turned Laurie down. Readers who liked Baratz-Logsted's Little Women and Me or were intrigued by the graphic novels that place the characters into a modern day setting might find this to be interesting as well. This stands on its own as a historical novel, but is better if one is familiar with the original.
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Jo & Laurie
(Updated: July 04, 2020)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Jo March is surprised at how well her novel LITTLE WOMEN has done. Now her publisher and readers want a sequel. She's asked by her publisher to write a happily-ever-after ending to all her characters. Only Jo's having a hard time writing this. Her life has some unexpected twists like her father staying in the South to help with rebuilding and Beth's serious illness. Then Laurie proposes after a trip to New York. When Beth rejects his proposal, Laurie goes off to college. She goes back to her writing. Only she gets a case of major writer's block and her finished work is rejected. When Laurie comes back to Concord with a new girlfriend, Jo life takes an unexpected turn. Should she continue on the path of being independent or follow her heart?

What worked: Okay, confession time. When I read LITTLE WOMEN as a tween I hated that Jo turned Laurie down. I mean, they were perfect together. I didn't quite buy the whole Laurie and younger sister Amy together. It felt forced and too sudden to me. So when I found out Stohl and De La Cruz did a retelling? I wanted to read that novel. And I wasn't disappointed!

In this 'What if' scenario Jo doesn't know what to think of her modest success with LITTLE WOMEN. Readers get to meet the same characters they loved in the original story, but Stohl and De La Cruz fleshed them out a little more. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of the 'real' sisters and I loved Laurie even more!

Jo suffers from doubt, writer's block, and a driving motivation to succeed at writing in a mostly male's world. Meg is the older, prim sister, but unlike the original novel, she also has her own insecurities and fears. Amy is younger in this novel and suffers a devastating illness that brings everyone together.

I really enjoyed this engaging historical, though at times the pacing was slow. It does pick up, especially during Amy's illness and Jo's struggles on her writing. The romance is sweet, not only with Jo and Laurie, but Meg and Brooke.

Sweet retelling of LITTLE WOMEN where Jo struggles to write the perfect sequel and finds that truth is stronger than fiction.
Good Points
1. Sweet retelling of LITTLE WOMEN
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slow-paced historical fiction
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
JO & LAURIE takes place after the publication of the original LITTLE WOMEN, which is about half of the current text. Jo March is the author, and she has pressure from the publisher to put out a follow up in which all of the girls are married off. Jo really does not want to do this, and she is feeling writer's block pretty heavily.

Although the book is billed as a romance, most of the book is Jo relating to her sisters and trying to figure out how to write what we know as the rest of LITTLE WOMEN. She wants to fulfill her commitment to the publisher and stay true to herself.

The book captures the difficulty of putting pen to paper as well as familial love that marks the original book. This is a retake/retelling on LITTLE WOMEN that tries to fit in the historical context, including the sexism of the times. I found it to be pretty slow in terms of pace and many of the characters felt a bit lackluster. However, Amy really has quite the personality, and she was a fun character to read. I did appreciate the context at the end which shows the research the authors have done and how they feel this fits in with Louisa May Alcott's life and feelings about Jo and Laurie. I think sisterhood was strongest type of love in this book (versus romance) and that the main focus was on authoring.

Overall, I think this would appeal to people who enjoy slow-paced historical fiction. Please note that I received an ARC from netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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