In the literary world, there has been a resurgence of the popular female protagonists, i.e., Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Bella Swan (Twilight), and Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). I don't have a huge problem with the first of these three, as she is an intelligent girl, but the other two seem insulting to women. Where are the female protagonists our daughters can read that aren't shallow, two-dimensional characters? If you are like me and have a hard time finding them in modern literature, then I recommend taking a stroll down memory lane and looking to the past for characters like Laura Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) or Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables).
I was first exposed to Anne of Green Gables in late elementary school or early middle school. My mom and sister were watching the TV mini-series (with the same name), and since we only had one TV in the house, it was watch that or nothing. I didn't fully appreciate the story then, but now that I am older I decided to give the books a try, with a review copy from Tundra Books. The first thing that surprised me was that there were actually eight books in the series, not just two (Green Gables and Avonlea)! Tundra Books has actually recently released all eight books in the series in two different formats, paperback and hardcover. The paperbacks have an inviting feel for younger readers as the illustration on the front is a bit cartoonish. The hardcovers, which I was pleased to get, give the feel that they are for the older reader who is re-visiting an old friend. The pages are deckle, which is something that has come back in popularity recently. There is a ribbon bookmark, which is always appreciated. Lastly, there is a bonus short story by L.M. Montgomery, at least in the first book. I'm not sure if there is a bonus story in the other seven books.
The story of Anne Shirley has a tragic start. Her parents died when she was just a baby, and she felt unwanted for the first eleven years of her life as she bounced around homes and orphanages this entire time. In a fortuitous accident, she ends up at the farm of an older set of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthberts, however, had wanted a boy to help with farm work due to their old age. The whole first book spans about five years and is both a learning process and adjustment for both Anne and the Cuthberts. In addition to Anne's crazy antics, which will keep you shaking your head and laughing in stitches, we are introduced to two people who will forever have an impact on Anne's life. The first is Diana Barry. Diana becomes Anne's "bosom friend" (best friend) and Anne does her fair share of getting Diana in trouble. The second character is Gilbert Blythe, who Anne sets as her rival and disdains because he teased her about her red hair. There is typical angst here between a boy and girl of that age, but the angst eventually softens and they become friends near the end of the book.
Anne of Green Gables is a timeless classic that while aimed at girls, should probably be read by both sexes. It is a story of friendship, belonging, and finding your place in the world. It is also a good coming of age book that your early middle schooler should be exposed to, so that they can see what good writing looks like and not all the pop culture, mass produced drivel that is being written today. If you are looking for an inexpensive version for your first time reader of it, go for the paperback version. If you are looking for a fancier, gift version that will stand the test of time, I'd go for the hardcover. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
This book was provided to me for free by Tundra Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!