(Author’s Note: Okay, so technically – technically – Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is not a series. However, it was published in two volumes and is the first in a trilogy, followed by Little Men and Jo’s Boys, so just think of it as a very short series.)
I always prefer the book to the movie, with very rare exceptions. Your imagination can range as far as you’d like, without being limited by the choices some producer or casting director has made. So-called faithful adaptations can be plodding, and diverging too far from the book never turns out well. Still, there are a few cases where a movie captures the soul of a book. The actors are as you saw them in your mind’s eye, the production is scaled appropriately; ever after, you associate the enjoyment of watching the movie and reading the book together.
One such book and movie for me – and I suspect some of you, dear readers – is Little Women. It’s a story about four sisters coming of age in the 1860s: Meg, the pretty one; Jo the tomboy & bookworm; Beth the sweet homemaker; and Amy, the artist. I first read it around 4th grade, probably, and enjoyed it, but the Susan Sarandon/Winona Ryder/Christian Bale film version came out in 1994, and it was all much more romantic and thrilling. The four sisters have strong, unique personalities that are much more relatable than your average milquetoast 19th C heroine. And to an early-adolescent girl, still figuring out who she is and what she likes, they were four characters she could model herself after. Everybody thinks of themselves as Jo (Winona Ryder in the film, who is excellent albeit too short for the part), but the other sisters have much to offer as well.
So, in honor of our 13 year old selves, it’s quiz time, teen magazine style! Are you a Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy?*
1. What’s your favorite snack?
b. juicy citrus fruits
c. a crisp fall apple
d. homemade bread
2. Which social media platform do you spend the most time on?
c. personal WordPress blog
3. What’s your idea of the perfect date?
a. a night on the town at all the hot spots
b. romantic dinner in Paris
c. going to a reading at an indie bookstore in Brooklyn
d. cooking dinner at home together
4. When fighting with a friend, your response is to:
a. forgive & try to think the best of them
b. whine and pout
c. get into a yelling match on the street
d. cry at home into some Ben & Jerry’s
5. What’s your next vacation?
a. whatever Caribbean island Kanye & Kim just visited
b. long weekend in Gstaad
c. New York City
6. It just started to snow outside. What do you do?
a. curl up with hot chocolate and the latest US Weekly
b. do some online shopping to find the perfect snowday outfit
c. text my pals & head outside for some sledding
d. hand out blankets to homeless people
7. What the thorn in your side?
a. my champagne tastes on a beer budget
b. my nose
c. my hot temper
d. my health
8. How do you let your crush know you’re into him?
a. wait for him to make the first move
b. play hard to get
c. text him and ask him out
d. by ignoring him
If you chose mostly A’s, you’re a Meg!
You love parties, dancing and following with pop culture. You may not be one of the rich kids of Instagram but you’re sweet and hot and friendly and sometimes get invited to their parties. Unfortunately your credit card can’t keep up with your shopping list.
If you chose mostly B’s, you’re an Amy!
You’re artistic, sophisticated and have killer taste. Friends look to you for fashion tips you’ve picked up on your world travels. Some people accuse you of being vain, but you’re very aware of your own faults. Be careful your critical eye doesn’t extend to others.
If you chose mostly C’s, you’re a Jo!
You wear your heart on your sleeve and attack life with energy. Your way with words has gotten you into – and out of – some sticky situations. Your friends know you have their back, and are rooting for you as you pursue your dreams. Although that thing about “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me”? Not true.
If you chose mostly D’s you’re a Beth!
Cooking from scratch? Composting? Community service? It’s all in a day’s work for busy Beth. You’re a loyal, faithful friend to anyone who crosses your path. There are a lot of big needs out there that you’re helping to fill, but don’t forget it’s okay to take some time for yourself.
*If you are a guy, apologies. This quiz was not for you. But you’re probably a Laurie. Don’t worry, it’s a guy’s name, short for Lawrence. Christian Bale played him in the movie, so that basically means you’re the Dark Knight. Congrats, you. Now, go watch Little Women.