Book Review: Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Book Review: Pioneer Girl: The Annotated AutobiographyPioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill
Pages: 400
Reading Challenges: #LittleHouseRAL

Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family's journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory sixteen years of travels, unforgettable experiences, and the everyday people who became immortal through Wilder's fiction. Using additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources, award-winning Wilder biographer Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and leads readers through Wilder's growth as a writer. Do you think you know Laura? Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will re-introduce you to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions.

When Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her sixties it is suspected that some event (one of her sister’s death, if I remember correctly) triggered her to want to write her life story for her daughter Rose, most likely. After completing this task (via multiple writing tablets) she handed it over to Rose to type up for her. After completing the first couple of pages, Rose thought it was an interesting story and passed it along to her writing agent and a publisher. She continued typing up the pages while waiting to hear back from her agent. Eventually she heard back and they pretty much passed on it. Eventually Rose was able to get someone interested in her mother’s life story and was willing to publish it…under one condition…that it become a children’s story. Thus, the Little House series was created.

OK, so that’s a little simpler than it actually was, but that was close enough.

“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” is the real story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood through her eyes and fingers. It begins when she was a small child and ends after she marries Almanzo. The events are similar to many of the events in the Little House series and are not dramatized as they are in the books. Many don’t happen the way they do in the book but most of the events that happened in the Little House series actually happened to Laura in her autobiography.

I did enjoy reading this book, however, I recommend that when and if you read it that you consider reading it at least twice. Read once, all the way through without reading the footnotes/side notes and once with reading it all the way through while also reading these notes. The footnotes/sides were distracting for me and I admit, I did not and am not considering reading it twice. What notes I was interested in I did read, though. It is not a difficult read by any means, but it is a bunch to take in at once. I recommend you don’t read this at your normal speed and take it in gradually because I also felt bombarded with too much information too soon. That’s my bad though because I read to fast and don’t let things sink in as they should.

If you are fascinated with Wilder or her daughter and/or the Little House book series or/and television series, I do recommend this book. It is nostalgic on all ends.

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