By Anne Jorgenson
Anne Shirley, an 11 year-old orphan, is ecstatic when she is finally adopted. After being dropped off at a train station a mere carriage ride away from her new home in Avonlea, Anne sits alone on a bench and waits for her new family to arrive. Eventually, Matthew Cuthbert comes to pick her up, but unfortunately, she isn’t exactly who Matthew was meant to pick up.
Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are siblings who live on a farm – Green Gables – in Avonlea. When an acquaintance of Marilla’s said she was going to an orphanage to adopt a young girl, Marilla requested that she also adopt a boy for the Cutherberts to raise and help on the farm.
Remember the game of telephone that you would play at recess as a kid? The whole class would line up and the person at the front of the line would say a simple phrase. As the phrase got passed from person to person, it would get more and more distorted, sometimes deliberately, sometimes simply because someone else misheard.
That’s what happened with Marilla’s message to her acquaintance. Instead of a boy, the Cuthberts get Anne. Matthew knows the mistake that’s been made, but his sense of kindness prevents him from disclosing the error to Anne, and he simply takes her back to Green Gables.
Anne is a redheaded, grey-eyed, imaginative young girl who immediately charms Matthew, but Marilla doesn’t take to her daydreaming and wistfulness quite as well. Marilla lets her stay a few days before sending her back to the orphanage, but when she hears that a dislikable woman in town would like to take Anne, Marilla decides that she herself would be a better influence on the young girl and keeps her.
So begin the adventures of Anne in Avonlea. Her red hair is a large focus of the townsfolk, but anyone who has the gall to bring it up to Anne is in for an earful – she’s self-conscious enough about the color without other people bringing it up.
This series is absolutely amazing to grow up reading. Anne is an amalgamation of different traits, but unkind is certainly not one of them. The shenanigans (or, you could argue, the shen-Anne-igans) she gets up to are amazing coming-of-age stories, which is why over one hundred years later the book is still a bestseller.
You watch Anne grow and change, but never for the worse, and while she may grow out of some habits like naming different plants and writing admittedly absurd romances, she still stays true to herself.
Throw in her interactions with her nemesis Gilbert Blythe and her “bosom friend” Diana Barry, and you have a wide range of characters to be introduced to and appreciate.
This book is just extremely well written and wonderful to read. All the characters actually have depth, and you have a friend for life in Anne, a friend who you can revisit again and again, regardless of age. Plus, there are eight books and a short series adaptation, so you aren’t going to run out of material anytime soon.