I remember picking out Little Women at the book fair.
My 4th grade compatriots championed flashy titles that ranged from the lurid (I’m looking at you, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Chain Letter) to the maudlin (Don’t Die, My Love). And while my own shelves groaned with the adolescent weight of Sweet Valley High and Baby-Sitters Club drama, I was searching for something more—well, real. Without thinking, I grabbed a book—one with a cover that looked nothing like the others—and watched my school librarian tuck it into my backpack after a week’s worth of my ice cream money had disappeared into her cash box.
“It’s a classic,” she assured me.
I didn’t know what she meant. But I devoured that book (an abridgment) cover to cover in a day. Irrepressible, gawky Jo captivated me—at nine, all scabbed knees and elbows myself—and I yearned for the simple goodness of her world.
I never really stopped reading Little Women. I read the unabridged version after my first heartbreak at thirteen and cried when Jo turned Laurie down. The Winona Ryder adaptation came out during my senior year in high school, and I wore out VHS and DVD copies of it until Netflix and digital files came along. I read it in college when I was just cynical enough, having taken classes in Really Important Literature (as it was distinguished from the mere Children’s Literature that Alcott wrote), to roll my eyes and call the book sentimental. I read it again with the wiser eyes of a first-time marmee as I nursed my own child, recognizing anew the simple goodness and truth in Alcott’s very human characters.
And I still read it. I always will. It is, after all, a classic.
Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy, now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, is a tribute to our collective love affair with Little Women and the world inhabited by Alcott’s characters—relevant still, even after 150 years. To ensure its continued legacy, Pink Umbrella is donating 10% of the book’s proceeds to Orchard House, the longtime home of Louisa May Alcott. We invite you to help preserve the museum for future generations through your purchase of Imaginary Heroes and/or by making a direct donation to Orchard House.
Can’t join us in Concord on Sunday, September 30th, for the 150th anniversary of Little Women? Please click here to watch a 5-minute trailer for a documentary on Orchard House.
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