The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

Posted April 6, 2011 by Lisa Mandina in / 0 Comments

First thing I want to say is, although you probably won’t notice this from the finished blog, because I have an injured hand, this may take me awhile to type up. However, I finished this book this morning and really want to share my thoughts on it, so I’m going to get it done. Please forgive any typos that I don’t catch as I type with my wrapped up hand. Here goes.

I read an advanced readers copy for this. One I was very excited when I got it in the mail. I, too, am a fan of the Little House on the Prairie, however, unlike the author, my fascination comes from the tv show. I didn’t start watching this till probably late middle school/early high school. I just remember watching it with my brother during the summer, so of course it was mostly reruns at that time. We loved the show, but really loved the campy way Michael Landon played Charles Ingall. As much as you hated Nellie Oleson, I loved when her character was on. So, by the time I really learned about the books, I was at an age where I was reading much more adult books, and when I tried to pick up the books, I felt like I was trying to read an elementary school level book. Hey, give me a break, I was reading VC Andrews books, as well as Stephen King books that I’d borrowed from my mom at this time. And of course, Sweet Valley High, as well as Amanda Quick books that I had borrowed from my stepmother. I wish I’d learned about the books at an earlier age, so that I too could feel the way about them that this author did.

In a way though, my tv fandom made me want to do the same thing she does in the book. I bought a book at the bookstore I work at when I saw it told about all the Little House locations to visit in the country. That was when I learned fascinating things about where they’d lived. I have visited the site in Missouri, although didn’t have the money at the time for the tour.

Anyways, on with reviews for the book itself. This was a great story. I see so much of the author in myself. Being on a quest to learn all she can about something she loves, and being excited and thrilled at one moment, and disappointed and disillusioned the next. Hearing about all the places she visited reminded me of my plan to go visit them. At the time I got the book I had my Subaru Forrester, and I planned to pack what I needed in the car, along with the dog. I bought a book on pet friendly hotels, and I was going to take one of my summers off from teaching to drive around the country. I believe I decided I couldn’t afford it at the time, so I never ended up making it. I think it is great that the author’s boyfriend went along with her. What a great guy he sounds like!

I learned so much about the books as well as even some actual history from this book. And I’m inspired once again to make this trip one summer in the future. Okay, now there were some specific parts in the book that I had to mark the pages to come back and talk about.

Early on in the book she discusses that she found it interesting that not all girls wanted to be Laura, some liked Mary better, they were happy living a peaceful no surprise type like. And pointed out that this is often the oldest child (which I am) and this is how I kind of like my life. Now, halfway through the book I had to chuckle a bit as she called out Twilighters (which again, I am) when she talked about the end timers waiting for the collapse of civilization like us Twilighters waiting for the trailer of Breaking Dawn.

Another part I really laughed at was when she was talking to the two men who had brought two girls for the Laura lookalike contest in Walnut Grove, and one of them said he didn’t like that Golden Girls had taken the time slot when he used to watch Little House on the Prairie. I agree with him, in that I also didn’t care about an old ladies sex life.

Towards the end of the book she discusses going to the new Little House on the Prairie musical, which I got to see last summer! I loved seeing Melissa Gilbert, I only wish I’d had a chance to get her autograph or a picture taken with her. I’m such a celebrity geek! On the same page she mentions driving through the Twin Cities and all she knows about them is from Purple Rain. Again, I love this author’s pop culture references! I knew about Chicago before I ever went but only from the movies Adventures in Babysitting and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

On a more somber note, at the end of the book she thinks about when Laura thought about how she finally realized she could be herself even without her family when they were gone. And the author thought about when she lost her mother and wondered if she could still be herself now. I’ve not lost anyone that close, but I’ve had the same feelings when losing grandfathers or uncles. Imagining family gatherings without them was hard. But when they happened, they went on, and it was okay.

I will highly recommend this book when it is published, and like Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim, it will be a staff rec at the bookstore where I work.
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