cover image Great or Nothing

Great or Nothing

Joy McCullough et al. Delacorte, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-37259-3

In a fresh, collaborative take on Little Women set against a 1942 WWII backdrop, the four authors alternatingly voice the four March sisters. Barely on speaking terms after an emotionally charged argument, both Jo—who has rejected a proposal—and Amy leave their Massachusetts home. Jo flees to Connecticut, where she works long hours as riveter in an airforce factory and begins to develop feelings for a coworker’s sister. Amy, meanwhile, lies her way to London to serve in a new Red Cross program while her family believes her to be attending art school in Montreal. Meg remains in the family’s now quiet childhood home, steadfastly dependable even as she struggles to suppress growing anger and fear. Haunting verse lines give Beth a memorable presence that provides insight into the girls’ individual motivations, shares anecdotes of her own imperfect life, and pushes back against her traditional casting as “some sort of angel/ incapable of range or envy or deceit.” As each sister individually navigates her grief, the white siblings find the strength to mend their broken relationships and pursue the promise of romantic love in this modernization that gives these much-loved sisters new energy and a satisfying sense of agency. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Mar.)