Midway through Thomas Newman’s Little Women score, on the piece Little Women (the piece where Jo decides to write her novel), I found myself more than a little misty eyed. I’ve never known how to articulate why this story has such a wistful pull on my heart. It wasn’t until moving away for college became a reality that I fully understood that this story is my own. And perhaps it’s somewhat like what Katharine says in You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity… in a way no other reading in your life does.”
It’s not that Little Women shaped me, though it influenced me more than I may ever know, but it’s that this book that I grew up revisiting once a year every year from ages 8 to 12 mirrors my own life more closely than I ever allowed myself to realize in elementary school.
Indeed, Louisa May Alcott herself says – “Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.”
I grew up wondering why sisters weren’t like Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, only to realize now when I won’t have them near me for much longer, that they are. My sisters are my March sisters and more to me than that, because they aren’t just like them. They are their own people and I’ve got to watch them grow into their teenage years. I’ve been able to stand alongside them in the tumult of unrequited disappointment, shifting friendships, first dances, and their personal triumphs.
Like Jo after years of thinking that I needed something more to write or become something meaningful, I see that this is more than any trip to Europe or any scholarship. It makes my heart ache to think that only upon the eve of this chapter of my life do I grow grateful for what I have.
I am full, more full and satisfied and grateful for what the Lord has gifted me than I will ever be able to articulate.
“I don’t understand it. What can there be in a simple little story like that, to make people praise it so?” she said, quite bewildered.
“There is truth in it, Jo, that’s the secret; humor and pathos make it alive, and you have found your style at last. You wrote with no thought of fame or money, and put your heart into it, my daughter; you have had the bitter, now comes the sweet. Do your best, and grow as happy as we are in your success.”
“If there is anything good or true in what I write, it isn’t mine; I owe it all to you and Mother and Beth,’ said Jo.”