Creative Non-Ficion / Memoir / Travel
Date Published: Paperback out this March / eBook November 2014
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
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Nancy McCabe, who grew up in Kansas just a few hours from the Ingalls family’s home in Little House on the Prairie, always felt a deep connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series. McCabe read Little House on the Prairie during her childhood and visited Wilder sites around the Midwest with her aunt when she was thirteen. But then she didn’t read the series again until she decided to revisit in adulthood the books that had so influenced her childhood. It was this decision that ultimately sparked her desire to visit the places that inspired many of her childhood favorites, taking her on a journey that included stops in the Missouri of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Minnesota of Maud Hart Lovelace, the Massachusetts of Louisa May Alcott, and even the Canada of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
From Little Houses to Little Women reveals McCabe’s powerful connection to the characters and authors who inspired many generations of readers. Traveling with McCabe as she rediscovers the books that shaped her and ultimately helped her to forge her own path, readers will enjoy revisiting their own childhood favorites as well.

About the Author

Nancy McCabe is the author of four memoirs about travel, books, parenting, and adoption as well as the novel Following Disasters. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, and many other magazines and anthologies, including In Fact Books’ Oh Baby! True Stories about Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love and McPherson and Company’s Every Father’s Daughter: Twenty-Four Women Writers Remember their Fathers. Her work has received a Pushcart and been recognized on Notable lists in Best American anthologies six times.

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My Review
A journey into nostalgia

If you could put your hands on copies of books you enjoyed as a child, would you reread them? Better still, if you could visit some of the settings for those books, would you? This is exactly what Nancy McCabe did when in 2007 she took her nine-year-old daughter with her on a trip that to those places. Since I love books as well as travel, I grabbed the chance to read and review Nancy McCabe’s From Little Houses to Little Women. I was not disappointed.

In this beautifully-written memoir, McCabe seamlessly compares her impressions of the Little House books and others she read as a child with her impressions of them as an adult while taking us on a journey of hundred-degree days, bugs, ticks and endless acres of prairie grass to retrace the footsteps of the books she grew up with. In doing so, McCabe debunks a lot of the myths that the average reader may have accepted as fact — that the Osage Indians simply left the land for the white settlers, and that Ma insisted that Laura wore sunbonnets, not as a fashion statement, but to prevent her from becoming “brown as Indians.”

McCabe also gives the reader glimpses into her childhood and how the books she read shaped her life and resulted in her becoming a writer. But she doesn’t stop there. Drawing upon references to passages in the books, McCabe gives her candid views on religion, politics, friendship and family relationships.

Although I found the very detailed accounts of the journey tedious at times, I kept on reading because in the midst of it would often spring up some piece of information that I found startling or relevant. I recommend this book to book lovers everywhere, especially those familiar with the books McCabe writes about and to those who would like to satisfy their nostalgic longing again and again. I have given this book four stars.