Before getting into Wilder's story, Pioneer Girl offers some essential background on the Little House series of books. I hadn't know that Wilder used her original, handwritten, intended-for-adults version of her story as raw material for her fictional stories for children. The relationship between Laura and her daughter, Rose, during Laura's writing/editing process was especially interesting.
The narrative itself, Wilder's vivid rendition of her pioneer family's experiences, is extensively and expertly annotated, providing all the explanation and detail a devoted fan could wish for. Photos, names, dates, places--it's all here. But even if one chooses to ignore all the added explanation and detail of the notes, however, even if one (like me) did not grow up reading the books, Laura's straightforward telling of this vanished piece of American life is still fascinating, readable, and very personal. I came away with a renewed appreciation of how incredibly difficult life was for the Ingalls family. Laura doesn't gloss over the hardships, but it's clear she looked back on her childhood with great fondness.
Little House fans will probably love this book, but it's also a good read for anyone with an interest in American history.