Monday, February 23, 2015

Classics Review: Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Jo's Boys
Series: Little Women #3
Author: Louisa May Alcott
First Published: 1886 by Robert Brothers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Best known for the novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott brought the story of her feisty protagonist Jo and the adventures and misadventures of the March family to an entertaining, surprising, and bittersweet conclusion in Jo’s Boys. Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo remains at the center of the tale, surrounded by her boys—including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat—as they experience shipwreck and storm, disappointment and even murder.

Popular for over a century, Alcott’s series still holds universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family—the haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is shared, and our dreams of being cherished, despite our flaws, come true. In this edition of Jo’s Boys, readers once again experience a treasured classic by one of America’s best-loved writers.

Remember when I said I was a big fan of Little Women? Like two weeks ago. You remember, when I reviewed Little Men. I thought that book was going to be hard to review, but wow, this one is even harder.

Jo's Boys perfectly combined the sentimental elements of both Little Women and Little Men to create a fantastic conclusion to the series. It was a bit of a stretch to say that Little Men is the sequel to Little Women, but it's not hard at all to see that this is the sequel to Little Men. We get to follow up with Jo and the students from Plumfield ten years after the original story. We see them as adults, going on adventures, falling in love, and of course getting into trouble. There were still lessons to be learned and philosophical ideals to pontificate but it was very much a story about friendship, family, and love. It had the same kind of sentimentality and joy adding it as an addendum to the place in my heart where Little Women and the Marches live.

I think what surprised me most about Jo's Boys is the fact that it also had much more of a historical significance to it. I mentioned in my review of March, a Little Women retelling, last week that one of the things that I found it interesting Little Women didn't much address is the topical events at the time. We knew the Civil War was occurring because Mr. March was off fighting, but it didn't much get political (not that I'm complaining). And while Jo's Boys didn't mention the political side of things it did mention things like the California Gold Rush, westward expansion, and other cultural events making an impact at the time. It really served to ground the book in reality and gave it much more context which I really enjoyed.

And of course Alcott creates fantastic and likable characters that earn places in my heart. The opportunity to follow-up and spend more time with these beloved characters from the two previous books was amazing. We of course got to see Jo again with the same kind of caring for others and motherly attitudes from Little Men but she does have a few moments where she is her old self again being a little brash (including a very tongue-in-cheek scene regarding fans of Jo's book). We also get to see Laurie a lot more in this one which is delightful. I'm such a fan of adult Laurie and I'm going to confess something here that is going to be an unpopular opinion. As an adult I support Laurie and Amy being together. It makes sense (don't hate me!) and while I'm still sad that he and Jo didn't end up together I totally get it now. But that's the tip of the iceberg. There are also all the boys from Little Men like Dan, Nat, Demi, Daisy, Bess, and Nan. Alcott's characters are always so complex and sweet it's always a pleasure to see them again.

Well I guess that wasn't so hard afterall. Just like Little Men I really enjoyed the final installment in a series that I have loved for as long as I can remember. And when the book was over I was a little sad to have read the last words. "... let the music stop, the lights die out, and the curtain fall forever on the March family."

I give Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott a 9 out of 10


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY. Little Women fans should continue with this series. If you are fans of Classics that have a coming-of-age YA/MG feel then you should definitely read all these books. I'm so glad I finally took the time to continue with the Marches and now I am really sad to see them go but it was a fantastic and sentimental journey with them.

Have you read Jo's Boys? What did you think?  What is your favorite Classic? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

2 comments:

  1. Your reviews of these books is making me want to reread them again! I've missed the March family and Jo!

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  2. I am kind of ashamed to admit this, but I honestly didn't even know that Little Women had sequels until I read your review for Little Men and now this one. I don't know, I guess I can be pretty oblivious to certain things if they're not directly introduced to me. But clearly I really need to read these! Starting with Little Women, which again I am super ashamed to admit I haven't read yet.

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