Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – A Modern Graphic Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – A Modern Graphic Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Little Women with a twist: four sisters from a blended family experience the challenges and triumphs of life in NYC in this beautiful full-color graphic novel perfect for fans of Roller Girl and Smile.

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are having a really tough year: with their father serving in the military overseas, they must work overtime to make ends meet…and each girl is struggling in her own way. Whether it’s school woes, health issues, boy troubles, or simply feeling lost, the March sisters all need the same thing: support from each other. Only by coming together–and sharing lots of laughs and tears–will these four young women find the courage to discover who they truly are as individuals…and as a family.

Meg is the eldest March, and she has a taste for the finer things in life. She dreams of marrying rich, enjoying fabulous clothes and parties, and leaving her five-floor walk-up apartment behind.

Jo pushes her siblings to be true to themselves, yet feels like no one will accept her for who she truly is. Her passion for writing gives her an outlet to feel worthy in the eyes of her friends and family.

Beth is the shy sister with a voice begging to be heard. But with a guitar in hand, she finds a courage that inspires her siblings to seize the day and not take life for granted.

Amy may be the baby of the family, but she has the biggest personality. Though she loves to fight with her sisters, her tough exterior protects a vulnerable heart that worries about her family’s future.

There is nothing this family can’t handle if they stick together.

Mr. Terciero did an excellent job of updating this classic tale for the twenty-first century. He struck the perfect balance between satisfying the expectations of readers like me who are lifelong fans of the original while also keeping the storyline accessible to people who may know nothing at all about these characters yet. I was especially impressed with how he handled issues like Robert March being away at war and the serious health problem that one of the characters was diagnosed with. He made these plot twists feel modern and fresh while still remaining loyal to L.M. Montgomery’s storytelling.

I wish this graphic novel had spent more time on character development. In the first Little Women, all four sisters had clear character arcs that gave them ample opportunities to show how they slowly changed for the better. While there were signs of similar personal growth in this retelling, it was sometimes hard to follow those plotlines because of how much less space they had to work with. For example, Meg made a major revision to her life goals that was announced so suddenly to the audience I briefly wondered if I’d missed something earlier. These sorts of things happened often enough that they did negatively affect the rating even though I wanted to choose a higher one.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that explored the relationships between Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The story eventually explained the origins of their multiracial family for anyone who might be curious about that, but the opening scene was all I needed to know that these four sisters were as loving, playful, accepting, and occasionally irritated with each other as ever. It was delightful to see how they handled the ordinary disagreements that all siblings have as well as to get a peek at how they made up after an argument. This was exactly the sort of wholesome content I was hoping for.

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – A Modern Graphic Retelling of Little Women made me smile.

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