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Little Women: the ultimate comfort book

Hanna Dykema

Copy Editor

January 12, 2023

As the weather gets increasingly chilly, and stores are offering anything and everything peppermint flavored, the feeling of winter is starting to finally set in. In an attempt to be positive about winter, I can point out a few activities that one might find enjoyable: baking, basketball, and winter break (duh). The real game-changer that makes the dreadful season worth it, though, is the coziness that ensues. As the weather cools down, it’s the perfect time to light a candle, grab a blanket, and read a book. “What book should I read?” you might be asking. You’re in luck my friend because I have the perfect answer: “Little Women.”

“Little Women” is the epitome of comfort, the closest a book could possibly be to a warm hug. Published in 1868 by Louisa May Alcott, the novel is a classic in American Literature. But don’t let its old age fool you: this book has stood the test of time, as it is super easy to follow and relatable to read.

The story follows each of the March sisters as they live with their mother, Marmie, awaiting the return of their father, who’s fighting in the Union during the Civil War. Over the course of about 10 years, we watch each of the sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy endure the trials and tribulations of growing up and taking on adulthood. Meg is a nurturing caretaker, Jo is a headstrong writer, Beth is a quiet pianist, and Amy is an ambitious artist.

With each sister, we experience this universal period of life through a unique lens. While everyone at some point in their life is faced with transitioning from childhood to adulthood, not everyone experiences it in the same way, which is a distinct detail in each sister’s story. Whether it be Meg’s sense of duty to her family or Jo’s longing for adventure and freedom, there’s at least one character that all readers can identify with.

Furthermore, one of the amazing aspects of “Little Women” is its ability to connect with people of any age. Though some of the lessons throughout the book are geared toward a younger audience, serious subjects such as grief, war, and heartbreak tear at any person’s heartstrings. Not only that, but this book is an emotional rollercoaster in the best way possible. One chapter I’d find myself smiling ear to ear, then I’d be bawling my eyes out questioning the meaning of life, and the next I’d be laughing out loud.

While I don’t consider myself a reading connoisseur by any means, “Little Women” is an extremely well-written book. I usually lean towards genres such as mystery and adventure since those keep me on the edge of my seat, but Alcott writes each chapter with so much wit and depth that I couldn’t put this book down. While there isn’t a super direct plot like most books, the humanity and conflict in each character is enough to make this story worth reading. Through the well-written character arcs, it’s clear that Alcott invested lots of love and care into each of their stories. Again, there’s something for everyone in these characters.

If you’re not much of a reader, I highly recommend watching the 2019 movie adaptation. Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring film icons Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, and Saoirse Ronan, the movie does an amazing job of bringing the book's charm, emotion, and coziness to life. I love that it sticks to the important parts of the book but also strays away from the plot in what are some very iconic scenes (*cough* Amy’s scene about marriage being an economic proposition *cough*). From a technical point of view, I love how Gerwig uses warm lighting to show the magic and comfort of childhood, which is very different from the jarringly cold and dark lighting used to show the harsh reality of adulthood. It’s a great way to visualize what part of the story you’re watching since the movie jumps from past to present often.

“Little Women” is truly the greatest book of all time, and I will die on this hill. It’s a shame that there are people who have gone through life without experiencing Alcott’s masterpiece. I hope that if you read “Little Women” you love it as much as I do!

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