Title: The Wilder Life
Author: Wendy McClure
What you'll love: So many insights into the Laura World!
What will bug you: A few typos (specifically: a jar vs. ajar. One makes sense, like you bought a jar of something, and the other one doesn't) and some frustrations with some of the people she meets.
As a kid I also fantasized about having Laura Ingalls travel through time and hang out with me. I'd show her around and give her candy and take car trips. What a relief to find out that I wasn't alone! Wendy McClure travels the country exploring Laura World!
I liked this book. I actually finished it a week or so ago. As fun as it was to read about the real life Laura Ingalls Wilder, I found myself getting more and more disillusioned. Laura's daughter, Rose was one of the founders of the libertarian party? Really? Laura didn't actually do all the things in the books? Pa kinda knew he was on Native American turf when they built their little house on the prairie? The notion that the government was kicking the Ingalls' off of their land had some political spin to it? They lived and worked in a hotel for a year and Pa actually had his family skip town in the end? Pa?? You're kidding. Nope.
Turns out the Laura books are pretty fictionalized. This doesn't mean the books aren't great. They are. But they're not a historical account by any means. Rose actually had more of a hand in this series than I realized. She wasn't all that enthused with her "simple life" upbringing and her books lament this fact. Much that is in the books is, as Wendy points out, almost Laura projecting the childhood she wished she had. This is especially true in Farmer Boy, especially with the food - for a kid who grew up in situations where malnutrition was a real concern, she paints Almanzo's childhood as a bountiful feast-fest.
I was a little surprised by some of the people that Wendy met in her journey to the lands where Laura lived. There are people who base their homeschooling curriculum on Laura and the way she was taught in the books. Because, you know, the world is pretty much the same as it was over 100 years ago - especially in the science department. Also, people obviously need to learn how to homestead - raise their own crops, livestock and preserve their food in a root cellar - because Obama got elected and people have equal access to health care so that obviously means the end is near, and it's not that their "side" lost, it's just a true sign that we need to start preparing for a world where modern luxuries are no longer available. Like grocery stores. Can you sense my sarcasm and irritation? Because I'm laying it on really thick.
The landscapes sound beautiful, and it was fascinating to hear about the places where Laura was once a resident. It was also neat reading about a person who loved Laura growing up as I did. I would love to see a prairie sunrise, dip my feet in Plum Creek (maybe even pull off a few leeches!), see a big storm rapidly approaching from the west. I'm not sure I'm as passionate about it as Wendy is - and my husband is certainly not as willing to drive hundreds of miles as her boyfriend is - but she tells a great story. I'm not sure I would run out today and buy it, but it's certainly worth putting on the TBR list - especially if you're a Laura fan!
A fun read!