Thank you to @kidlitexchange for a free copy of Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life by Shelley Tougas in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.
When they finally arrive, however, Charlotte’s mom begins to spiral into a depression, struggles to write about the prairie, and breaks her promises to her children. Blaming Laura for all her family problems, Charlotte expresses her disdain for Walnut Grove in an essay assignment, explaining in detail all the ways Laura has ruined her life.
Perfect for adults needing a tug on their nostalgic heartstrings and middle-grade readers that want to see how life on the prairie compares to the past, check out why you should read Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life.
Tougas does a splendid job of highlighting the ways in which Laura Ingalls Wilder romanticized life on the prairie, and even misrepresented the Native American population that lived there before the settlers. There is so many great conversations (and conversation starters) about who writes history and accurate portrayals of the past. Parents and educators would do well to read this along with their younger readers, so those conversations can be had and even further research can be provided. This would be a delightful book to read in tandem with the original books by Laura Ingalls Wilder so that students are provided more context for Charlotte’s feelings toward Walnut Grove.
While Walnut Grove takes center stage in this novel (how could it not with that title?!), there are plenty of characters that help you remember that this story is about Charlotte and not Laura. Charlotte’s brother has taken a vow of silence in protest against their recent family move. Charlotte’s sister sleeps with their recently deceased dog’s ashes every night. The list goes on and on.
While light and easy to read, there are some deeper topics explored throughout the novel. Charlotte’s mother struggles to write her book and thus spirals into a light depression. Her struggle with self-confidence and her choice to isolate herself from her family has a sad effect on Charlotte in particular, which also opens up opportunities for discussion.
While adults who enjoyed the Little House books are not the intended audience, I am sure they will enjoy this book as much as I did. The middle grade readers do not need to have read the Little House series before tackling this novel. Although it would be a good supplement to explore Wilder’s impact on her childhood home. There are some light Little House spoilers, particularly those involving Laura’s sister, Beth.
Overall, I liked this book and would keep it in my classroom (and probably would actively push it into the hands of my students). It displays the impact of our writing (for both Charlotte and Wilder), and helps students see the importance of proper representation in history.
TL/DR: Great for those who love Little House and those who have never read a page of it.
Rating: 3/5 stars
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