Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: My Life As Laura by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson

In this witty and candid memoir, author Kelly Kathleen Ferguson shares her journey to follow Laura Ingalls Wilder's travels and how she discovers herself.

My Life As Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself is at times funny, at times heartrending, and always a reminder that every Laurafan has a story to tell.

This is the second memoir of a woman following the travels of America's favorite pioneer girl that I've read this year. Both have their strengths: they're funny, well-written, and engaging.

What I feel makes My Life As Laura different is that Ferguson was not just trying to reconnect with a role model from her past. She made a decision to leave her previous life behind, get in her car, and drive across the country to start over in Montana, where her pioneering spirit came alive and encouraged her to drive west from the "Big Woods of Pepin, Wisconsin, to the Great Plains of  De Smet, South Dakota," retracing the path where Laura comes of age.

The opening scene is probably one of the funniest in the book. Having decided to make her journey through Lauradom in period clothing, Ferguson ends up at the local Goodwill trying on prairie dresses. That dress gets a lot of mileage throughout the book, and her story of finding it, getting into it, and the mishaps with it along the journey are hilarious.

Like many of those interested in the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author doesn't care for Michael Landon's television version of things. I've never understood the disdain for the show by some, but the author spends three pages letting the reader know what's wrong with it: television Reverend Alden, Charles Ingalls, and especially Laura were not up to snuff. Nellie Oleson was okay until she was "tamed by Old Testament hot lovin'." Ouch!

Ferguson wasn't too fond of the whole blowing up the town thing; though not many of the fans were either. But at this point, we've heard the story both in Michael Landon's own words in his interview on A&E Biography, and from Kent McCray here, so we just have to deal with it. As I said in a recent article, there might be peace in the Middle East before we can expect it in Laura World when it comes to fans of the show and those who don't even wish to speak about it.

In what I feel is a brave move by Ferguson, she doesn't leave you with all her ducks suddenly in a row. This is no romantic tale, but like Wilder's classic books the author's story displays the optimism that comes from reconciling the past and holding onto hope for the future. I'm glad I have a copy of My Life As Laura in my Laura Ingalls Wilder library.

Title: My Life As Laura
Author:  Kelly Kathleen Ferguson
Publisher: Press 53
ISBN-10: 1935708449
ISBN-13: 978-1935708445
SRP:  $17.95

No comments: