Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

I believe every fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whether that person is a fan of the books, the TV shows and movies, or both, has a Laura story: the moment when she discovered Laura, connected with her, and how it changed her life. Wendy McClure shares her story with readers in The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

A senior editor for Albert Whitman & Company, McClure brings the reader through her journey as an adult of rediscovering these beloved classics from her childhood.

A year after the death of her mother, McClure's eye catches the yellow spine of Little House in the Big Woods in her apartment. She picks the book off the shelf and begins reading. Her boyfriend, Chris, brings home a new set of the Little House books and together they read, explore "Laura World," and embark on a trip by car to visit the many Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites across America.

The Wilder Life is both touching and irreverent. The author's lifelong obsession leads her on this terrific journey into a world that is familiar, yet, altogether new. From tracking down a "crock and dash" churn so she can make butter like Caroline Ingalls, to wading in Plum Creek; from purchasing numerous sunbonnets, to meeting girls competing in the Laura-Nellie Look Alike Contest at the Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, MN; and from a surprise during her trip to De Smet, SD, to the meaning found in a visit to the Wilder farm in New York, readers will enjoy following McClure's travels.

This is the kind of book that you have to consider as a whole. There are moments when it feels like McClure is poking fun at the whole "bonnethead" obsession and some of the people she meets along the way. She occasionally uses words that were not made for family TV back in the 70's. She also has her own vision of what faith meant to the Ingalls family versus how it was portrayed on television in Little House on the Prairie and the 2005 mini-series of the same name.

But when you take those moments and blend them into the entire narrative, you come up with a funny, engaging, and moving look into the impact Wilder's books had on McClure's life, and how Wilder's legacy continues to touch the lives of people everywhere. I am thrilled to have The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure as part of my Laura Ingalls Wilder book collection.

Title:  The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
Author:  Wendy McClure
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (April 14, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1594487804
ISBN-13: 978-1594487804
SRP:  $25.95 (Hardcover)

Will also be available in a Kindle edition and as an audio book.

This review first appeared at my Laura Ingalls Wilder blog, Laura's Little Houses.

I received a free copy of this book from the author's publicist in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation of any kind.

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