Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Mother-Daughter Book Club; Much Ado About Anne

The title(s):
The Mother-Daughter Book Club; Much Ado About Anne
The author: Heather Vogel Frederick
Publication: Simon & Schuster, 2007 & 2008
Got it from: La Library

Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma's already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month. But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school.

I initially began reading these books because I'm hosting a mother-daughter tea at the library next month and I thought it would be fun to share some books about mothers and daughters. Admittedly, I struggled to get into the first book. There were a lot of characters and it was sometimes difficult to remember who was whose mother/brother/sister, etc.

I'm so glad I stuck with it, though, because my goodness I loved these books. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the four daughters in the club, each loosely based on one of the Little Women sisters. Shy, overweight Emma loves to read and write and wishes she weren't so poor. Her best friend Jess is the homebody who lives on a farm and misses her mother, who's away filming a soap opera. Cassidy is the tomboy who lives for hockey. Megan is rather bitchy, but a talented artist who eventually makes peace with the rest of the group.

The setting (Concord, Massachusetts) provides the perfect backdrop for exploring both Little Women and the girls' lives as young adolescents. So many of the activities the girls engage in reminded me of the fun times my friends and I used to have growing up (sleepovers, skating parties, school plays). That, combined with my girlhood love of Little Women, is probably biasing me toward this book. I don't care.

Sure, some of the book is a little unrealistic. One of the moms is a famous model and another a TV actress. Everything falls into place a little too perfectly at the end. Did I mind? Not a bit. While some of the scenarios were far-fetched, the relationships between the mothers and daughters were not. It's so refreshing to see a positive portrayal of friendships between female family members, since most books have them tearing each other apart like shrews.

The second book, Much Ado About Anne, is even better. The book club reads Anne of Green Gables and their lives inevitably become more complicated as they hit their teens. There's even the blossoming of romance - the awkward exchanges between Emma and her archenemy's brother are particularly sweet and totally take me back to those early days of first crushes (so much more realistic than some books that I've read recently *cough*Twilight*cough*). I've forgotten how much fun it is to read about those still-a-kid-but-growing-up books. I'm definitely going to have to put more on my reading list in the near future.

I'm really forward to reading more in this series. There's at least one more coming out in September (Dear Pen Pal - ooh, wonder which book they'll be reading?) and here's hoping it's not the last.

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