For my birthday, my friend got me this book as she knows that when I’m not busy being obsessed with Louisa May Alcott, I’m busy being obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I promptly put this book in a “safe place” and then couldn’t find it for six months. I was so very happy that I found it a few weeks ago and got to read this wonderful and hilarious book, where author Wendy McClure goes searching for all things Laura.
But first, let me backtrack. When I say I loved the Little House books when I was a kid, I mean I really LOVED the Little House books when I was a kid (um – as an adult, too). I read them all mulptiple times. I actually owned and wore a sunbonnet on a regular basis. And yes – I made my family call me “Laura” (but only when I was wearing the sunbonnet). In the 1970’s, our family travelled cross-country just about each summer to visit our relatives in Rhode Island, and one very spectacular summer my father announced that we could drive through and see all the places where Laura lived. I just had to make him a list of them. After skipping Wisconsin (too far off the path for us), and the little house that was on the prairie (which I thought was in Kansas but long gone), we went to Plum Creek, spent the night in Mankato (in a rain storm – in our RV – with me pretending to be in a covered wagon in a storm), De Smet, South Dakota, and the big Laura house and museum in Masnfield, Missouri. I was in my element. I waded in Plum Creek (I can still see my mother standing by the side of the road where my dad had pulled the rv over, sweater wrapped around her, calling out “Don’t fall in!”). I walked in places where Laura walked. I even met a woman at the Mansfield museum who had been Laura’s friend.
That said, I figured there weren’t many people as crazy/weird about Laura as I was. But then I read this book. Here was an author who loved Laura as much as I did! She even had some of the little “Laura fantasies” as a kid that I did (Laura time-warps and we’re friends, etc.). And she had gone to all these same places as me! In fact, thirty years after my pilgrimage there seem to be even MORE Laura places to discover.
Well, that’s what this book is about — Wendy Mc Clure’s journey to discover all things Laura one year (with her very patient and good-natured boyfriend), along with discovering some things about herself. I loved this book from start to finish. I laughed so hard in parts I cried. But mostly I felt like I had found a true kindred spirit in Ms. Mc Clure — just as I had 35 years ago in Laura, when I read my first Little House books.