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This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams
Series: Little House #9
Published by HarperTrophy Genres: classic, historical fiction, YA
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Laura Ingalls Wilder is beginning life with her new husband, Almanzo, in their own little house. Laura is a young pioneer wife now, and must work hard with Almanzo, farming the land around their home on the South Dakota prairie. Soon their baby daughter, Rose, is born, and the young family must face the hardships and triumphs encountered by so many American pioneers.
And so Laura Ingalls Wilder's adventure as a little pioneer girl ends, and her new life as a pioneer wife and mother begins. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.
This book was really rather depressing, disappointing, and under-developed. I never read this book when reading the series as a kid/teen, and if I ever re-read the entire series again, I won’t include this book. It’s worth reading once, I think, if you are a fan of the series, but there’s some big issues with this one.
First of all, it’s not edited or fleshed out like the other books. It’s tone is very dark & depressing. There’s a lot of horrific things that happen to them in this book, and it should make you feel very sad and depressed, but I didn’t really feel anything at all, except for one major disaster/scene. Other than that one scene, you aren’t emotionally invested, so you just don’t really care when the bad stuff happens.
Second of all, it just drove me CRAZY that Laura calls Almanzo “Manly” throughout the entire book, especially since in a previous book she makes such a big deal about Nellie creating a nickname for Almanzo which he didn’t like and she makes some comment about how she’d never do that to him. Maybe she called him that in real life, but it was just very jarring, and made me feel like he was a whole different person then in the rest of the series. Not to mention, the way he was written, he did seem like an entirely different man. He came across as very incompetent in this book, unlike in the rest of the series where he literally saved the town from starving. The Almanzo in this book is not very likeable.
And honestly, neither is Laura. She never came across as spoiled and selfish, but she does in this one. She doesn’t even act like she cares about her kid or her husband. Which I realize is pretty typical of the time (I remember my own grandparents treating each other as distantly as Laura & Almanzo does in this book, and that was in the 1980s), but it still drives me crazy. My grandmother might not have acted like she loved my grandfather in public because it wasn’t proper to show affection in public, but it was obvious she loved him from the way she looked at him, and the way he looked at her. Even those very small signs of affection were missing from this book. Yes, it was the beginning of the marriage, and maybe they didn’t really love each other in the beginning, but by year four there certainly should have been some emotions involved.
Well, I thought I had a third point, but I guess I didn’t. My only other issue was this book was just so short, but if Laura had worked on it a bit more, I bet it would have been fleshed out with more balance.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: