Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Mother-Daughter Book Club (Mother-Daughter Book Club #1)
By: Heather Vogel Frederick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7079-8


As if navigating the social minefield otherwise known as sixth grade isn't bad enough, Emma's mother, the local librarian, joins forces with three of her yoga class friends to start a Mother-Daughter book club. Emma is thrilled her best friend Jess will be in attendance, but Jess struggles with abandonment as her mother has decamped to New York to pursue an acting career. The tomboyish Cassidy would rather play hockey than spend quality time with her too-perfect ex-model of a mother. And Megan, once one of Emma's closest friends, makes it crystal-clear the book club is something a member of the "Fab Four" would only attend under extreme duress. As the school year progresses and the girls make their way through Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, they find unexpected wisdom and humor in the lives of the March sisters, and a tentative camaraderie forms between this unlikely group -- a camaraderie rooted in literature that threatens to spill over into their very lives, changing their friendships and families forever.

Oh how I wish this book had been around when I was in middle school! Sure to appeal to any bookishly-minded girl's heart, The Mother-Daughter Book Club's inaugural adventure is a refreshingly grounded, real-world antidote to the seemingly overwhelming number of fantasy young adult literature available today. Fantasy is all well and good, but there is a place -- rather, a need in my view -- for more fiction of this ilk, fiction that gently addresses the turmoil of lives entering the minefield that is the teenage years. Frederick's first book club novel not only meets that need but goes one better, setting the girls' dramas against a timeless and enduring work of classic literature -- not only addressing why books such as Little Women have endured (and liberally sprinkling the text with quotes and facts about Alcott), but sparking new discussion as to the possibilities of how the March sisters' trials and tribulations can relate to  members of today's tech-saturated culture.

The book alternates chapters from each girl's point-of-view in turn. While I appreciate the insight into each character's disparate background and perspective, I rather wish their had been one less viewpoint character, or a longer book, as at times I had issues with distinguishing one character from the other -- a muddled blend of pre-teen angst and drama. That said, Frederick does an excellent job laying the groundwork for future volumes in the series, which all appear to be significantly longer, promising greater character development for each girl's story.

This book is SO relatable. Frederick gives us sleepovers, school cliques, friendship drama, stolen journals, and musical debuts, mixed with a healthy dose of parental misunderstandings and oh yeah, homework assignments. :) Much like Alcott's famous March sisters, the youthful members of the Mother-Daughter book club all contain the seeds of budding dreams and individuality that promises further excitement in future installments -- the shy animal lover, the awkward budding writer, the tomboy, and the snobby fashionista. All different, and in those differences finding the strength and support to navigate life's rocky paths. In addition to the solid theme of friendship, I loved the novel's positive family focus, and its respect for just how  much mother-daughter relationships are worth fighting for, even when every circumstance screams otherwise, or that one's parent simply isn't fair. *wink* A thorough charmer loaded with potential, The Mother-Daughter Book Club is sure to appeal to the young, young at heart, and anyone who has ever found inspiration and solace within the pages of a good book.

About the book:

The book club is about to get a makeover....

Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma's already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month. 

But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can't help but wonder: What would Jo March do?

Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship.


Deborah said...

This is a FANTASTIC series! As the series goes on, they read lots of my favorite classics and introduced me to some new ones as well. LOVED these books!

Unknown said...

@Deborah - Oh YAY! Glad to here you also enjoyed this book and its sequels! I'm looking forward to the rest of the series even more now. :)

Rissi said...

Golly, this sounds cute. I'll have to start reading it sometime - just for the fun of it. :)

Thanks Ruth!

Unknown said...

@Rissi - I think you might like this one, Rissi. Enjoy! :)

Ella said...

I loved this ENTIRE series--read them all, since I wanted a good series to recommend to girls when I am asked at work....

Who was your favorite?

Unknown said...

@Ella - Oh cool! Right now I think I'm torn between Emma and Jess, but I love Cassidy's spunk and Megan's storyline. It's hard to choose! :)

Ella said...

I am an Emma and Jess girl myself, but I see little bits of myself in all of them!

Unknown said...

@Ella - They're so RELATABLE...makes it fun. :)