Like many other girls growing up in suburban Illinois, Wendy McClure fantasized that she was actually sharing the little prairie homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As an adult, she followed that dream in ways by becoming a busy children's book editor, but in this loving pilgrimage of a memoir, she goes even further, indulging her fascination and love for The Little House on the Prairie by seeking out its continuing presence in the lives of readers. These "snapshots from a Little House life" have been described as "deeply human, darkly hilarious" and imbued with a touch "as light as Max's best biscuits, but the results still sticks to your ribs." A Discover Great New Writers selection; now in a trade paperback and NOOK Book.
You need not have been an obsessive fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder in order to appreciate McClure's memoir The Wilder Life— because, really, she's not just talking about this one series, but about the magic childhood books can hold throughout one's life...Breezy and funny and fun.
"[The Wilder Life] has the power to charm even those who shudder at the thought of gingham, calving or salt pork.…McClure's touch is as light as Ma's best biscuits, but the result still sticks to your ribs."--( Laura Miller)
The A.V. Club
Even for people who've never read Laura Ingalls Wilder's work, The Wilder Life is an insightful, entertaining look at our relationship with pop culture, how it changes from youth to adulthood, how it intersects with the real world, and how other people relate to the personal things we love.
NPR "What We're Reading" blog
Deeply human, darkly hilarious… an entertaining and touching book — and an essential for Little House fans.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fans of the ‘Little House' series will eat up this book like a hot Johnny cake, and well they should, because McClure highlights that intangible something about the series that strikes a deep chord in even the most casual reader.
Highly engaging, often hilarious book. . . the author's pilgrimage arrives at what feels like well-earned literary nostalgia.
BUST magazine columnist and children's-book editor McClure (I'm Not the New Me, 2005, etc.) takes an engaging road trip in search of a remembered "Laura World."
"I was born in 1867 in a log cabin in Wisconsin and maybe you were, too." Like millions of other young readers, mostly girls, the author had lived the dream and then—possibly impelled by the disappointing way the series peters out—moved on. Hoping to recapture the magic after glimpsing that world years later in a re-reading Little House in the Big Woods (1932), McClure checks out the LHOP canon's continuing role in online communities, lines of commercial products, the perpetually-in-syndication TV series and a steady stream of literary and other cultural spinoffs. The author also tries her hand at butter churning and farm cookery, and sets out with an obliging companion on a Midwestern pilgrimage. McClure presents a merry travelogue that features stops at Pepin, Wisc. (where Wilder was born), Rocky Ridge Farm (where she died) and most of the other widely scattered sites the peripatetic Ingalls clan set down in between, as well as meetings with fellow pilgrims, a wade in Plum Creek, a weekend at a self-sufficient farm (made scary by a group of "end times" survivalists) and even a later jaunt to the upstate New York farm where Wilder's husband Almanzo grew up. McClure also ruminates on the qualities that give Wilder's fictionalized but oh-so-evocative memoirs their enduring appeal. In the end, she moves on once again—coming to recognize the beguiling joy and simplicity of Laura World, but at a slight remove brought on by years and other experiences.
Many others have made the same pilgrimage, but not, perhaps, with such a winning mix of humor and painless introspection.