Published: April 3, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Recommended for readers interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder
Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder—a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family— looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House—exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” The result is an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones—and find that our old love has only deepened.
This little fact needs to be made public before I go any further. I purchased my copy of this book at the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, SD. Folks, I'm not just in the choir, I'm the director! So, the idea of someone going on a Laura Ingalls Wilder pilgrimage didn't seem the least bit strange to me, considering that was exactly what I was doing.
I've read one of McClure's earlier books and enjoyed it and I found her humorous style very fitting. I especially enjoyed her stops in De Smet, Walnut Grove, and Pepin as those were my LIW destinations (I need to somehow convince my husband that we need to go to Missouri and Kansas).
As much as I enjoyed reading this, I'm not going to say that McClure and I had identical experiences. For one thing, I am revisiting the books and visiting the sites as a mom, which she is not (and this is a distinction she makes in the book). I also seemed to be looking for something else--something that I found. After finishing this book, McClure sounds as though she never found what she was looking for.
I certainly cannot blame McClure for the fact that her experience differs from mine and I'm really okay with that. However, there were times when McClure seemed to make blanket statements about other Laura Ingalls Wilder fans that seemed a bit judgmental to me. She tends to speak as if other LIW fans (not including herself) are all camping out and waiting for the apocalypse.
However, I was able to--well, if not overlook, at least tolerate--that. On the whole, however, this is an enjoyable book for people who enjoy the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.