Sharp and subversive, this delightfully messy YA rom-com offers a sly wink to the classic Little Women, as teenage Jo Porter rebels against living in the shadow of her literary namesake.
Lit’s about to hit the fan. Jo Porter has had enough Little Women to last a lifetime. As if being named after the sappiest family in literature wasn’t sufficiently humiliating, Jo’s mom, ahem Marmee, leveled up her Alcott obsession by turning their rambling old house into a sad-sack tourist attraction.
Now Jo, along with her siblings, Meg and Bethamy (yes, that’s two March sisters in one), spends all summer acting out sentimental moments at Little Women Live!, where she can feel her soul slowly dying.
So when a famed photojournalist arrives to document the show, Jo seizes on the glimpse of another life: artsy, worldly, and fast-paced. It doesn’t hurt that the reporter’s teenage son is also eager to get up close and personal with Jo—to the annoyance of her best friend, aka the boy next door (who is definitely not called Laurie). All Jo wants is for someone to see the person behind the prickliness and pinafores.
But when she gets a little too real about her frustration with the family biz, Jo will have to make peace with kitsch and kin before their livelihood suffers a fate worse than Beth.
In this lighthearted take on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women from Sellet (By the Book), a trio of Kansas siblings play their namesakes in "semiprofessional tourist attraction" Little Women Live! High school junior Jo Porter—alongside her older sister, Meg; younger sister, Amy; and a revolving door of Beth-hopefuls auditioning for a permanent role in the cast—has spent seven years performing in their mother's Little Women–inspired theater production. Jo, frustrated that her mother's Alcott obsession leaves her with no time to pursue her own goals, including joining the school's track team, is desperate to regain control of her life. When deadpan New Yorker Hudson and his reporter mother arrive to write a piece on the show, Jo believes they're her ticket out of Kansas. The Porter siblings' personalities mirror the March sisters largely at a surface level, occasionally lending to caricature. Nevertheless, the characters' snappy repartee is both biting and affectionate, and the premise's cheeky inventiveness—a remix within a remix that both enacts and interrogates the source material—buoys this playful jaunt. Most characters read as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Bridget Smith, JABberwocky Literary.