A Retelling That Provides Charming Escapism: Just in Time for Summer! | Review: Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

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We all know two facts about me: (1) I own more books by Melissa de la Cruz than probably any other author (although, Cassandra Clare and Krista and Becca Ritchie ARE sneaking in on that territory) and (2) I love Little Women. Like. A lot. And, what happens when you love Little Women? You are always foaming at the mouth for more content. Always.

Jo & Laurie
by Margaret Stohl
and Melissa de la Cruz

Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo's desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart's desire or lose the love of her life forever?

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz
Rating: ★★★☆☆

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.    

For years, I've always found myself drifting in and out of thoughts of what ifs. What if I turned left when I should have turned right. What if I'd followed my original career choice of being a ballerina nurse (listen, four year old me was AMBITIOUS, okay) and left for Paris? What if, what if, what if?

Whether this is an indication of my daydreamer status or not is, probably, irrelevant. But, it's relevant to why I've always been fond of fan-fiction, retellings, AU's and the like. And this trait played a huge part in why Jo & Laurie was so enjoyable (though, admittedly not my favourite) for me.  

When good stories spark that specific part of our mind, we are always itching to get our hands on more content or explore what other's can create with the usual suspects. Classics like Little Women are among some of the stories with endless possibilities of paths. None of these paths will ever hold a candle to, or beat, the original ending--but, I don't necessarily think they are trying to.

First of all, retellings change absolutely nothing of the original story and its essence. You can choose not to read it. Jo & Laurie is simply another AU in a long line of AU stories and retellings that stand apart from Little Women and tell a completely different story. If you aren't okay with that, or can't comprehend that, then this novel is absolutely not going to be the right fit for you. And that's 100% okay.

But, let's get to the main attraction! Jo & Laurie is fun. Imperfect and still undeniably charming. I'm often smitten with books like these, so this was no different. A sweetly tuned, fast paced spin, on the original novel, Jo & Laurie was definitely better than many of the retellings I've read in the past, (I'm looking at you, Anna Todd's Spring Girls) but it does suffer at times for its pacing, resolutions and development.

In particular: the ending.

In terms of characters and the reflection of each from Little Women to Jo & Laurie: they're mostly still who they've always been, with some exceptions. (Example: I didn't like Amy in Jo & Laurie but I always liked her more than other's seemed to. And I, somehow, like Laurie a lot more.)

If life were considerably less volatile and more normal right now, I'd probably be sipping some wine and laying out at the beach or a pool with this novel. Alas, life is bleak. Much like many of Melissa de la Cruz and Margaret Stohl's prior releases, Jo & Laurie is a breeze to get through and provides readers with their desire of 'what ifs' and serves us some dazzling escapism.

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