Heather Vogel Frederick
Simon & Schuster, 2007 236 pages
The Mother-Daughter Book Club series #1
Four sixth-grade girls are dragged unwillingly by their mothers to participate in a mother-daughter book club. Throughout the year they experience highs and lows and grow closer as a group in their small Concord, Massachusetts town, home of Louisa May Alcott, all while reading Little Women. Emma is already a bookworm and aspiring poet. A little pudgy and nerdy she struggles with fitting in. Jess's mother has moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. She is left at the family farm with a well-intentioned father, mischievous twin brothers, and various livestock. Tomboy, Cassidy, would rather be playing hockey than attend a book club with her recently widowed, super-model mother. Finally, Megan is attempting to climb the middle school social ladder and finds book club to be extremely embarrassing and detrimental to her aspirations. Her hippy mother wants her to be a scientist or lawyer, but Megan longs to become a fashion designer. Under the backdrop of Alcott's classic story we see the girls grow and mature and friendships and understandings develop. A typical "mean-girl" serves a foil accompanied by an equally obnoxious mother and a cute boy presents a love interest with unexpected results. A happy ending all-around is offered by the author and will allow the reader to sigh contentedly and grab the next installment in the series, which features Anne of Green Gables.
Somehow I never got around to reading this series. I guess, maybe because of the pink cover, I never took these books seriously. But after ten years of girls consistently asking for them, I broke down and read the first one. I was glad I did! The series is sweet and innocent with a literary connection. The problems that the protagonists face are common and realistic to today's youth without being too heavy or dire. Quotes and excerpts from Alcott's life are interwoven in the story with relevance and parallels adding an extra dimension to the book. Readers may be inspired to pick up Little Women, I know it made me want to re-read it. A wonderful friendship story, the girls who seem to have very little in common grow together as friends and learn to support each other. The setting is serene, perfect for the tale, and is an intricate part of the book. The book culminates in a big trip to New York City to visit Jess's mother, where everyone has a Cinderella moment, except Jess. Jess gets her Cinderella moment at the very end, when the girls have their "end-of-the-year" party. The ending is a bit too perfect for me and all the characters basically got what they longed for, which is a bit unrealistic, but young girls will love it. The light romance will also appeal to the readership and remains harmless and at the crush level. A perfect choice for mother and daughter book groups and for all girls who love to dream.