Thoughts – Little House on the Prairie

I haven’t read this book since I was, I don’t remember actually, but I was much younger than I am now. When it came up as a possible July title for the Book Hoarders Anonymous Book Club, I was excited to pick it up again and see what I thought of it as an adult. Here’s the discussion post if you’re interested.

First, as a child, I loved this book. I read it over and over thinking how wonderful it would be to live in a log cabin, days to run free in the prairie, chasing animals, and sitting nights by the fire. As I got older, that stopped appealing which is probably why this book moved to the back of my bookshelf and was replaced by fantasy books. Hello Tolkien! Re-reading it now, I had an entirely different reaction, and not surprisingly, a more adult reaction.

Second, a few things that stood out to me. When Charles Ingalls decides to move his family out west, he packs up the wagon and heads out. There was no family discussion at all except for his wife Caroline saying something like, “If that’s what you think is best Charles.” Of course. Insert big eye roll here. His wanting to be away from everyone and everything was something I couldn’t identify with. Living in a city with close proximity to people and services, I love the idea of getting away from it all, but I don’t want to live away from it all. I can appreciate his adventurous spirit though. However, something about moving your family to the middle of nowhere with no help or contact with family, or any other people, strikes me as foolish. But that’s what people did and that’s how the plains were changed. I won’t get into the implications this had on the Native American tribes living in this area at the time. Obviously, my thoughts on this are very different then they were as a child, if I even had any thoughts about this as a child which I probably didn’t. I was happy to see that Charles was not quite as close-minded as Caroline though in his thinking even if he was still off the mark. If you want more on this, Jillian at A Room of One’s Own has some interesting thoughts about it. (Side note: Thanks for the link in your review Alison. Gave me a new way to view a story I’m familiar with.)

Now, the story. You know what, it held up for me. I read it on a Sunday afternoon curled up on my couch remembering all the wonderful things about this book and why I loved it so much as girl. There’s adventure, change, a tight knit family, and it has a homespun, charming quality to it. One part I forgot about was Jack the family dog. Don’t worry this is not a spoiler because it happens in chapter two. As the family is crossing the river, Jack gets lost when he has to swim for it himself. Why they don’t put him in the wagon baffles me but they didn’t. It get depressing for a while here and I was a miffed at Charles then remembered that Jack did make it across the river and joins up with the Ingalls again who are nothing but happy to see him. As a dog person, this was a little heartwarming moment. Now, Laura is my favorite but I was surprised that I didn’t remember Mary as being so quiet. Yes, Laura gets in trouble, is somewhat jealous of her well-behaved, older sister but I didn’t remember her as so meek and mild. It’s probably because I identified more with Laura and probably never thought much about Mary at all.

As I was reading, visions of the TV show kept popping in my head. No matter how many times it was mentioned that Charles had a beard, I couldn’t picture it because in my head, Charles Ingalls is Michael Landon and he didn’t have a beard. I wish that didn’t happen but I does. I should admit that I was a huge fan of the show as a girl so the two are pretty well intertwined for me.

I enjoyed this book, laughed at it, remembered some sweet things about it, and was glad I took a day to immerse myself it in. It was a complete comfort read and I remembered why these books were a staple for me. You won’t find lyrical prose here. You won’t find an amazing plot. You will find some heartfelt moments of a close and loving family and an adventure of a lifetime for a young girl.

For those not familiar with the series, the books in order are:

Little House in the Big Woods

Little House on the Prairie

On the Banks of Plum Creek

By the Shores of the Silver Lake

The Long Winter

Little Town on the Prairie

The Happy Golden Years

The First Four Years

There is also one book, Farmer Boy, which is based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband’s, childhood.

Thoughts – Little House on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder

Illustrated by Garth Williams

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 0060264454

 

Review – Ender’s Game

This book falls into the books I’ve always meant to read but never got around to stack. This ended up being the June pick for the online book club I joined, and though I read it earlier this year, I thought it was a good time to finally post my review.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is all of six years old when he is recruited to battle school to train as a commander to fight against an alien race that’s threatening to take over Earth. He leaves behind a distant and unhappy family on Earth — a sadistic older brother and parents that are terrified to become attached to a son they know they cannot keep. His sister, Valentine, is the only one in his life that has ever shown him love and in return, he holds onto her memory tightly. At battle school, Ender excels but loses all sense of himself — why he is there and what it might mean for his future. All he knows is that he must defeat the aliens and save Earth and all humanity.

Ender is one sad child. In fact, all the children at battle school are sad. They have no idea what it means to be children and will never be given the chance. They’re training day after relentless day to save the planet, yet, aren’t even allowed to know the planet or the people on it. It’s no wonder he’s an aloof little person suspicious of every adult in his path. And to be honest, they’re all trying to size him up as the next savior and that would make anyone an anxious mess.

I didn’t particularly like Ender. While he’s genetically perfect, a blend of all that’s needed to save Earth, he’s just boring. His situation is what I liked though. The psychological impact of what the children are put through is like watching a little experiment take place and I was generally surprised by the ending. I was reading this on my Nook so I didn’t read ahead so I didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s also creepy in how the children are treated as adults yet are essentially playing games they don’t understand and think they’re training to be fighters and question nothing. Ender does question the commanders but he’s a child trying to understand adult combat and life and death issues. Do the math on that one.

Am I glad I read it? I am. Sometimes when books I’ve ignored finally get read, I feel letdown, especially if they’re books others rave about. If I had read this as a child, I think I would have loved it more but that’s what I get for waiting to read it as an adult. Perspective, hindsight? Who knows.

Have you read it? Thoughts on this one? If you’re interested, here’s what the BHA Book Club thought about it.

Ender’s Game

By Orson Scott Card

Doherty, Tom Associates LLC/St. Martin’s

ISBN-13: 9781429963930

3.75 stars

 

Review – A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is a book I wish I would’ve read as a child, although as an adult I was still pretty impressed with it. I just kept wonder what my small self would’ve thought of it.

Meg Murry has trouble in school. She’s a smart kid, especially when it comes to math, but she has a temper and lands her in trouble more often than not. She has a lot to worry about too — her father, a government scientist, has been missing for months and it’s taking a toll on the Murry family. During a late night thunderstorm, Meg sneaks down to the kitchen for a snack and finds her little brother, Charles Wallace, already there. Soon their mother joins them and then the eccentric new neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit, shows up unexpectedly. After an eventful night, Meg’s next day is shot and she can’t wait to get home from school. Later, Meg and Charles Wallace head off to visit Mrs. Whatsit when they run into her classmate, Calvin O’Keefe. After some questions, Charles Wallace decides Calvin can come with them and the three set off. They meet the neighbors, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and a third Mrs. W who announces that they can help the kids get Mr. Murry back. The three children are then transported to another planet to help their father escape.

When I was reading, I got semi-wrapped up in the story and didn’t really think about the heavier aspects of it until I’d finished. One, the science fiction aspect is huge and I would have loved to have heard about wormholes before I discovered Star Trek. Another time… There is a strong religious element although, again, this one didn’t hit me until I realized that some of the quotes Mrs. Who was rattling off were bible passages. The Whatits are also, and maybe I’m remembering this wrong, at one point referred to as angel-like. Not being a religious person, these things usually pass over my head in most books.

Character wise, I loved Meg. She’s feisty, doesn’t like to hear she’s wrong, and happy to be a little different than most. She fights back when IT on the planet of Camazotz tells her he can make her happy just like everyone else. She tells him she doesn’t want to be like everyone else. Yep, an “Ahh,” moment for me. Meg has her quirks, but overall, she’s such a sweet character that I could see my small self really liking her. Although, Charles Wallace gave me the creeps. He’s a child of about five but he’s more like 30 and I found him to be a tad much at times. I wanted to like him, but his speaking like an adult one minute and being on the verge of a temper tantrum the next was weird.

The adult version of me was happy to see that L’Engle didn’t back off when it came to tough issues for what are essentially children — a missing father, school problems, family issues, etc. As child me, I probably never would have noticed that and simply thought this was just their life. Interesting how that happens. Oh, the years, they bring perspective.

Has anyone out there read the entire series? Is it worth it? I’m thinking of continuing but worried the rest might not live up to this one.

This was a BHA Book Club read and you can find more comments here. It was an April 2012 pick but I’m behind on reviews so this is a May review instead.

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 1429915641

4 stars

Review – Anne of Green Gables

This is the first pick for the Book Hoarders Anonymous book club which is hosted by Alison at The Cheap Reader. You can read her review here. There’s a discussion page here if you want to take a look at what others thought of this one.

It’s funny how books that captured your imagination as a child are so very different for you as an adult. I’m not saying Anne of Green Gables was a bad read as an adult but it was so much different than I remember it being. For instance, I don’t remember Anne talking so much. Really, she never shuts up! It’s so endearing though and you come to quickly understand why Matthew and Marilla fell in love with this red-haired orphan. I also remembered the decision as to whether or not Anne would stay was much more drawn out but that could have been how I perceived it as a child. I keep saying as a child because I think the last time I read this book was probably when I was 10.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, brother and sister who live on the Green Gables farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, decide to adopt a boy to help out with the farm work since Matthew is getting up in age. Arrangements are made and Matthew leaves to pick up the boy at the train station. He comes home with a red-haired girl who won’t stop talking. Marilla wants to send her back but Matthew has already become attached and sort of nudges Marilla to think about keeping her. Anne, even with her loquacious ways, manages to charm Marilla who decides she can stay. Anne is enchanted with her new home, a new friend, and even her new school. However, she’s not always the proper little girl she should be and gets into several incidents that somehow all manage to work themselves out for the best.

Anne of Green Gables is such a sweet book and pretty funny too. There’s not much that happens in Avonlea that doesn’t get back to Marilla, and Anne, who it must be said is not a bad child in the least, is always doing something that gets talked about. One day it’s flowers in her bonnet, telling ghost stories with her dear friend Diana, or cracking Gilbert Blythe over the head with her writing slate — Marilla hears about it. That’s small town living for you.

Reading this as an adult, I found it a lot funnier than I did as a child. At 10 years-old, Anne was a bit of hero. She was courageous and she stood up for herself. She was a person with guts and she was really smart. I loved all that about her as a child. As an adult, I can see how everything she did was vexing to every adult in her vicinity but it’s also so easy to see how everyone could love her. The kindness and caring stand out to me now but I don’t think I saw that as a child. Now, I’m also amused by the nosy neighbors, the teacher who’s in love with the student, and how parenting styles differ among the women in the story. I’m not saying that to be sexist, but it’s the women in this story that talk about it, not the men.

I’m glad I went back to this as an adult. My appreciation for it is different but all together much the same. Anne of Green Gables will always be a favorite of mine.

Anne of Green Gables

By Lucy Maude Montgomery

GirlieBooks

ISBN: 2940012069979

4 stars