Sunday, February 21, 2016

Little Women Read Along - Discussion Post #2

I really enjoyed this middle section of the book. Still not much in the way of plot, but lots of interesting little situations.

1.    What would be your dream cast for the March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy), Marmee, Laurie, and whoever else you'd like to cast.

I'm the worst at these kinds of things. I keep seeing Winona Rider as Jo, but I refuse to imagine Christian Bale as Laurie. He just doesn't do it for me. Maybe that guy who played Gilbert in the Anne of Green Gables movies? He had that dark, curly/floppy hair.

2.    How do you feel about Meg and Mr. Brooke's relationship? 

I kept expecting this book to be a romance and it's not. So I wanted more from the relationship before they got married. I felt like I mostly got to see their relationship through Jo's eyes, so there aren't many cute, swoony  moments. I did like the chapter after they were married, and all the pressure Meg felt to be the perfect wife. I totally felt that way when I was first married.

3.    How do you feel about Jo's reaction to Meg getting married?

It made me laugh. And this is why:
I have an older sister (named Meg, even!) who is absolutely one of my most favorite people in the world. We're pretty close in age. She was 21 when she got married and I was 19. And I may have reacted in a Jo-like way. I just remember the night before she got married. It was late, we were in a hotel, and she was trying to put on fake acrylic nails. And I was just like "hey, are you really sure you want to marry this guy? If you change your mind it's ok. I'll deal with everyone in the family. You just say the word and I'll take care of it."

This June they'll be married 14 years. Clearly my sister could take care of herself. And I survived the change in our relationship.

4.    The girls are growing up and changing, do you feel differently towards them now than you did at the beginning?

No, I feel like they're just even more of what they were before. Their good qualities are even stronger, and they just have more grown up situations to display some of their weaknesses.

5.    Two important men were introduced in these chapters. What are your impressions of Mr. March and Professor Bhaer?

The dad seems fine? Not that important of a character, though.
All I have to say about Professor Bhaer is "nearly 40."

6.    Do you think it was fair that Amy got to go to Europe instead of Jo?

Sure. Neither one of them was owed a trip to Europe and the people paying thought Amy would be a better fit for their trip. Plus Amy is so into trying to be a sophisticated lady, and Europe seems like the place where she could do that.

7.    What are your thoughts on the time period and setting of the book? Do you like it? Why do you think a very important historical event like the Civil War is hardly mentioned in the story?

I used to think this book was set in England (before I read it, obviously). But I imagine people didn't have news of the War or Reconstruction in the South at the time. Definitely not like we have access to news and information now. So maybe it's realistic that people didn't think about current events much, outside of how it affected the people immediately in their lives.

8.    Louisa May Alcott supposedly patterned the March sisters after herself and her own sisters. How accurate do you think she portrayed her family? Do you think a lot of the book is an idealized version of her and her sisters?

I'm curious about her life now. I read a thing online that made it sound like her heart wasn't really in this story, but that she wrote it because her publisher wanted it. There's a part in the book where Jo gets complimented on one of her stories and ends up saying something like "only silly people like that kind of garbage." And I wonder if LMA was poking fun at her own story a bit.

9.    Why do you think Louisa May Alcott later added Part 2 to the book?

As Jo says, "Some make fun of it, some over-praise, and nearly all insist that I had a deep theory to expound, when I only wrote it for the pleasure and the money."

10.    What is your favorite adaptation of Little Women and why?
I've only seen parts of the 90's movie, so I'm not the best judge here.

Upward and onward to the end of the book!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Little Women Discussion Questions Part 1

I'm so behind in posting my answers to the Little Women Read Along questions, but better late than never, right? I'm mostly on track to finish the next section by Friday. Mostly.

But here are my answers!

  1. What's your opinions so far about each of the girls? Do you identify more with one or the other of them? Do you like them, or do they get on your nerves in a way? Which one do you think would be your friend?
I like them all, for the most part. They feel a bit like stereotypes at times, but I like when they interact with each other. I like Jo the best, probably because I feel like I can relate to her the most. I was the second growing up and I feel like I have a lot of her outspoken-ness, without any of the worry of blazing the trail. (If that makes any sense). Beth feels very much like a stereotypical, too-good-to-live-long type, which is kind of unfortunate.
  1. What do you think of Mrs. March aka. Marmee? What's one of your favorite pieces of advice or lessons she's taught the girls so far?
She's kind and loves her girls. But holy cow she is boring to read about. She's a little too good and moralizing for me. I did like the lazy week, though, and her advice that no work is just as bad as too much work. That's some good CBT there, Mrs. March.
  1. Do you think that the characterization of these girls and this family is realistic? Explain.
Some things feel very realistic. I love when the sisters interact together, whether they're committing to being the best girls ever, or fighting, or doing hair, etc. I love the relationships. But they do feel a little too neat at other times, like they're there to demonstrate some kind of point or be an example of a specific personality type.
  1. What's your favorite scene or incident so far? And why?
Both of mine involve hair. First, when Jo cuts all hers off to donate money for her dad. Because it's impulsive and dramatic but good intentioned. The second when Jo burns Meg's hair before the big party because you know stuff like that had to happen in the olden days.
  1. If this is your first time reading this story, is it meeting your expectations? Or is it different than expected? Explain.
It's very different than I expected, but I like it. I think I was expecting more of a Jane Austen style social commentary/love story. And it's really not. The girls are all a little too good, with only superficial flaws so I would like a little more complexity. But I love the dynamic between the four of them. I'm enjoying the sisterly aspects a lot more than I expected.
  1. How do you feel about Jo cutting off her hair? Was this incident surprising to you? Do you think it's symbolic of anything?
I remembered it from the movie, so I wasn't surprised. It seemed very in line with Jo's character of big, impossible-to-be-missed gestures. I think she would have cut off all her hair for less, but I thought it was sweet that she did that for her dad/family.
  1. What's your feeling about the inclusion of poems, letters, stories, plays and etc. into the story? 
Umm, I've been skipping over a lot of them. I don't like being pulled from the story and having the girls pretend to be actors or whatever that secret society was. Although I did read the ones when they're writing letters to the mom while she was away. I liked those.
  1. Any thoughts in particular on the male characters in this story?
I like Laurie because he's funny. I know who he ends up with and I still can't believe that. Like, seriously. What is that.
I really like the grandpa, too. I loved that he gave the little piano to Beth.
I wish we saw more of the dad, but this is a very female-centric story and I'm ok with that.
  1. Are you liking this reading experience? If yes, why? If not, why?
Yes, I really am. The read alongs are always fun and I like seeing what people have to say on Twitter. I don't think I would have gone out of my way to read this on my own. But I'm glad I'm reading it with everyone. It makes me think about my older sister a lot, too, and it's fun to reminisce.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: How to Mend a Heart

How to Mend a Heart
by Sara Gillingham

The Goodreads Summary Says:
A charming arts-and-crafts approach to dealing with first moments of heartbreak. Be it caused by a lost pet, a friend’s moving away, or even simple childhood injustice, Sara Gillingham (How to Grow a Friend) understands the gentle touch needed to soothe a sore heart. Her fresh and whimsical design makes an enticing vehicle for her advice.

I Say:

4 stars

How to Mend a Heart is an adorable children's book. The illustrations are simple and sweet, and the idea of mending a heart in the same way you'd sew or patch up a beloved toy was cute. The book is pretty light on text, and written on a very accessible level. My first grader was able to read this without any difficulty. He and my preschooler both really enjoyed the story and the pictures. It's the kind of book kids will want to read over and over again.

A cute, fun Valentine's childrens book that my 6 and 3 year olds both liked.

Just So You Know:
I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. How to Mend a Heart is now available.