Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is, hands-down, my favorite Little House book. And that's saying something because I really love all of them! (I have mentioned before that my youngest sister is named Laura, and yes it absolutely is after LIW.) I normally reread these in the summer, as that's the best time to read about blizzards, not December! I felt like a bit of a wuss, huddling under my fleece throw in my silk long underwear, wondering when the heater would click back on, while the poor Ingalls are probably in a house that didn't hit 40 degrees for 7 months, not to mention starving to death.

I think one reason I like this book so much is because it has the added element of survivalism, which doesn't appear in any of the other books. And yet, the Ingallses have such patience, faith, and determinism that they never even seem to worry much, despite very great chance that they weren't going to make it. Also it's the book where Laura really starts to change from being a girl, to a young woman. She's really taking responsibility from the very first chapter, and she's working like an adult for the family. As Mary is blind, Carrie is weak, and Grace is a toddler, she's really the only able-bodied child in the house, and it's admirable how she really steps up to help. It's also the book where we're introduced to Almanzo. Yes, I know, we're really introduced to him in Farmer Boy. However, that books is a one-off. Within the narrative of Laura and her family, this is the first time they encounter him. And while Laura doesn't interact with him, he does make an impressive debut by boldly risking his life to save the townspeople from starvation.
This is also the longest book in the series, which is appropriate for the most serious episode in Laura's life. I love the length as we too, as readers, start to feel like the winter will never end. The cold, the desperation, and the tedium all are perfectly conveyed. I am sad I still have 2 more months of winter, but thanks to Laura's story, I am immensely grateful that I don't have 6 more months!


Jeane said...

I haven't read these books in so long, I can't recall which was my favorite as a child. I've been thinking lately of starting the series with my six-year-old; it would be great to revisit them that way.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is my favorite, too (second being Plum Creek). Long Winter greatly influenced my novel, May B.

Julie P. said...

I really wish I could convince my daughter to read these. She refuses and it makes me so sad!