Jo: An Adaptation of ‘Little Women’ (Sort Of)

Kathleen Gros. Quill Tree, $22.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-287596-9
While repackaging Jo’s story for a contemporary readership, this gentle, warm graphic novel adaptation will remind readers why the March family is long beloved. In Gros’s update, the heroine is a white 13-year-old blogger who faces mild challenges with the support of her sisters and Marmee; chats via video with their deployed father; and harbors a crush on classmate Freddie, a bespectacled Black girl. Beth’s recovery from leukemia and Jo’s coming out—first to instantly accepting Marmee, next via a school newspaper essay—add a contemporary optimism not present in the more bittersweet original, in which familial closeness was an antidote to a harsher reality. Jo declares in her article, “What scared me most about coming out was how people would react. I was scared my parents would be disappointed,” but Gros doesn’t really hint at this fear beyond a bit of blushing. Friendly illustrations have an Archie-and-Veronica quality that, alongside a lack of chicken pox vaccines and a presence of introductions using pronouns, makes for a hazy temporal setting, but it’s impossible not to root for Jo and family, and to celebrate their victories, however easily won. Ages 8–12. Agent: Elizabeth Bennett, Transatlantic Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/06/2020
Release date: 09/22/2020
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-06-287597-6
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