Meg & Jo

A good chunk of my personality is how much I love Little Women, and I generally am interested in book adaptations/re-tellings/modernizations because I think it’s interesting to see how much Little Women has resonated with authors (primarily women, of course) throughout the centuries. I finally got around to reading Meg & Jo, a modern adaptation, by Virginia Kantra this month. The sequel, Beth & Amy, is out in May 2021. The delineation between the two isn’t an exact divide like books 1 and 2 of Little Women–it really focuses on the story of the sisters in pairs.

In Meg & Jo, set in the 2010s in the US, Meg is a stay-at-home mom in her hometown of Bunyan, married to her husband John, and the mother of twins. She loves her life, she does, but she struggles with feeling overwhelmed and with letting John be a true partner. Then there’s Jo, off in NYC struggling and working in a kitchen while trying to get her legs as a writer. Her food blog, Hungry, is doing pretty well, but she’s terrified of telling her boss, Chef Eric, about it, because he hates food bloggers. But both sisters are drawn to their childhood home when their mother begins ill and needs help, and they’ll realize things about their family and upbringing that will impact the choices they make in their own lives. Beth and Amy are there too–mostly int he background, traveling, and Trey (the Laurie) is only a side character because this does not buy into the “Laurie and Jo should end up together” revisionism (which I love too, ngl) but I’m excited to see how he plays in the sequel!

As with all modernizations of classics, there’s some cringiness. There’s some awkward forcing of 19th century expectations into 21st century life, but it ends up being kind of interesting, right? That’s how I look at classic adaptations—not as an attempt to “better” the story but to show us as modern readers and writers what really stood out to us, how the story can be eternal, etc. And it’s less cringy that some modern adaptations on film, right?

There was one thing that made me “ahhh! no!” so..look away if you don’t want spoilers.

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**SPOILERS BELOW*

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I didn’t love the “Jo becomes unexpectedly pregnant” and “Eric then proposes immediately” plot point, but I guess that’s kind of the modern version of this. It’s not that I don’t think seeing Jo as a mother isn’t valid, it just escalated SO quickly from there it was almost an underdeveloped plot point. I also didn’t love how little of the Trey/Laurie we got, because yes, it’s after the “missed connecton” part but we see so little of their bond and how that impacts Jo for years to come. As someone who just ended things with their “Laurie” I know that it impacts the way you interact with others for years to come. She hardly even mentions him…suspicious.

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