A Heartwarming Start to an Enjoyable (and Educational) Series!
The Mother-Daughter Book Club
by Heather Vogel Frederick
Series: Mother-Daughter Book Club (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 22, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Format: Paperback, 237pp
Age Range: 9 to 12
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The book club is about to get a makeover….
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. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
Overall, I enjoyed The Mother-Daughter Book Club. The story is told in four parts, each section being a season in the 6th-grade year of the four main characters. Quotes from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women introduce each of the novel’s four parts and begin each chapter. And Little Women permeates the tale: In book club meetings where we learn factoids about Alcott’s life, in each girl’s mirroring of one of the March sisters, and, most of all, in the novel’s heartwarming aspect. Everything is rosy-hued. It was a welcome treat to read a book where the kids (whose voices may not be entirely representative of 11-year-olds) are not as jaded and sarcastic as many, both real and imagined, can be today. In this story, most of the characters are essentially good people who, while they may not at first, eventually do the right thing.
The wholesome optimism that resonates throughout The Mother-Daughter Book Club is at once the book’s strength and its weakness. For all its sunny skies, even Little Women has its really stormy moments. This tale’s storms are pretty much lightning-free. While the girls do learn and grow, the conflicts in the book are too readily resolved and the happy endings come from too many happy coincidences and contrivances. Maybe the author just couldn’t bear to bring a Beth-sized amount of pain and grief to her characters.
Still, shiny-happy ending aside, I liked the book and would recommend it to folks who liked Little Women, The Penderwicks, or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And I plan to catch up with Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan in the follow-up installment, Much Ado About Anne. Besides, it’ll give me the perfect excuse to re-read Anne of Green Gables!
— Dawn Teresa
Although perhaps too consistently rosy in its outlook, The Mother-Daughter Book Club is an excellent read for middle graders, providing them with a likable cast of characters and a peek at some literary classics.
What’s Next in the Series: