Goodreads: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy
Published: Feb. 2019
The March sisters are facing a Christmas without presents as their mom works late shifts as a nurse and their father serves overseas. But they soon realize that others have it worse than they do, and that there is still plenty in life to appreciate. Together, they will face whatever life throws at them and come out stronger. A graphic novel retelling of Little Women set in modern-day New York City.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is a Little Women updated for a modern audience. This means not only setting the story in modern-day New York City and featuring the Marches as a blended family, but also espousing contemporary values. Where Louisa May Alcott’s original novel may be said to have promoted virtues such as humility, hard work, and cheerfulness, Rey Terciero’s re-imagining promotes values of inclusion, diversity, and feminism. In many ways, this feels like the Little Women many readers have wanted all along.
If readers have one criticism with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, I suspect that it will be that the messages can be heavy-handed. However, this feels true to the original, which occasionally has Marmee give speeches to the girls about the lessons they should learn. If Louisa May Alcott can do it, so can Terciero. So I accepted this as in the spirit of the original and enjoyed the story mightily. It does a fine job of updating the messages to reflect the cultural values American audiences are more likely to accept as givens, showing, for instance, Meg at a party, not learning to be dress more modestly, but learning that she should be proud of who she is and kind to others.
The story, however, was unfortunately paced a little oddly. Even though the book only covers the first half of Little Women, parts of the story, such as Jo and Amy’s reconciliation, feel rushed. In only a few pages, Jo grows angry, snubs Amy, then realizes she loves her sister and never wants to lose her. Rushing scenes such as this lessens the emotional impact, making Jo’s anger seem less serious and less harmful, and taking away from the strength she needed to forgive her sister. I do not think this is the result of the graphic novel format, which is read more quickly than plain text. Instead, I think the author needed to have more scenes or a passage of time indicated, between Jo’s anger and her forgiveness. Other scenes could have benefited from more time spent on them, as well.
Overall, however, Little Women is a fun, enjoyable middle-grade read. I suspect the target audience will fall in love both with the bright colors and friendly artwork, and with the sisters themselves, who present a picture of a strong and loving family. Little Women is a timeless story–and part of that is seen in how easily a story of sisterly love can be updated to any time period.