I have recently finished reading “Little Men” by Louisa May Alcott. It is the sequel to “Little Women”. Because the plot is still tied to Jo March Bhaer, I recommend reading “Little Women” first, or at least familiarize yourself with the plot by watching the movie by the same name. Both books are wonderfully charming, but each in their own way. The theme of “Little Women” is more about the strength of sisters and family through the trials of war, growing up, and falling in love, while the theme of “Little Men” is more towards the idea that love and patience with raising children turns the children’s hearts towards good.
At the end of “Little Women”, Jo March and the German Professor Bhaer have fallen in love, and decided to found a school for boys. The plot continues fairly seamlessly into “Little Men”, where Jo and the Professor have begun the school with their nephews and various boys around town.
An orphan boy named Nat arrives off the streets at the beginning of the book, with only the clothes on his back and his violin. Other boys at the school soon welcome Nat, and he works hard at his schoolwork and chores, thriving under the love and care of Mrs. Jo, who is very proud of him. Because of the great success she has with Nat, she is more open to the idea of accepting other orphans and boys off the street into her school at Plumfield. Thus, when Nat’s tough-around-the-edges friend Dan shows up, Mrs. Jo wants to accept him into the school. Professor Bhaer is not quite as sure that Dan can be tamed simply by love and kindness. When Dan repeatedly runs away, and is accused of stealing another boy’s money and lying about it, Mrs. Jo is greatly distressed.
She decides that the boys need the influence of a few girls. Already Jo’s niece by her sister Meg, Daisy, is staying at the school, and Daisy is so sweet a girl that all the boys love her. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer decide to bring another girl to the school, to help tame the boys. The Bhaers decide that Nan, a girl a little on the rambunctious side who plays occasionally with Daisy, would make a good addition to the school. Together through fire, sickness, death, and mischief, the boys and girls mature, learn to love one another and stay true in friendships, and use their imagination.
Personally, I read this book a lot faster than I did “Little Women” because the themes and plot of “Little Women” seemed to be more mature and deep, while “Little Men” was more of a light-hearted read, and full of mischief. I would still highly recommend both of them; as I said before, both books are wonderful, and certainly embody the terms “classic” and “timeless”.