Jo & Laurie

Written by Melissa de la Cruz
Review by Melissa Warren

I am a forty-year-old English teacher, and I somehow missed the novel and the dozens of film and television adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women. The novel Jo & Laurie was my first experience with the March and Laurence families. I am in love! You do not have to be a fan of Little Women to read this book, but you will be after you finish it.

Celebrated young adult fiction authors, Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz’s novel reimagines Jo March’s struggle to create Good Wives, the sequel to Little Women. This skillful retelling blends elements from Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s life. The narrative explores the pressure Jo March felt to satisfy her readers’ hunger for a sequel. More importantly, the story explores Jo’s struggle to support her family and assert her independence without pushing away the people she loves the most.

This intense love story is a gateway for new readers into a celebrated classic. The authors seamlessly integrate key plot points and effortlessly develop characters from the original work, which allows readers to slide into the world of Orchard House. While this novel reveals many of the key events in Alcott’s original work, this retelling feels so complete that Little Women will serve as a must-read prequel for readers who meet Jo and her sisters through the eyes of Stohl and de La Cruz. As the Marches struggle with poverty, illness, separation, and boredom, their ability to love deeply transcends their pain.

I recommend this novel to any teen or adult searching for a way to navigate the claustrophobic, yet essential nature of love and family.