So I recently reread this series of books after not having touched them for maybe 18 years. (This makes me feel immensely old) What I discovered is th...moreSo I recently reread this series of books after not having touched them for maybe 18 years. (This makes me feel immensely old) What I discovered is that I probably shouldn't have picked them back up again. I did continue to love Anne of Green Gables, but I steadily disenjoyed the books more as I plowed on. Anne is charming at 11/12. She is interesting at 16 and tolerable at 18. She is annoying at 22 and insufferable after this.
When I was a girl, I wanted Anne for my friend. She was my kindred spirit because she was silly and fanciful and frequently a mess. She meant well, but it never came out right. She was relatable, particularly for a girl her own age (even if the book was OLD at that point). She looses those flaws and consequently, her charm as she ages. By the time the fourth book rolled around, she was beautiful, everyone loved her and she could do no wrong. In short, she becomes a turn of the century lady and ceases to be interesting. I like my characters with flaws, and while I don't mind them growing and changing, I certainly don't want to end up with someone universally loved and verging on perfect.
The up side of rereading this was I got to revisit how much I loved this book when I was a kid. I loved Matthew (I wanted him for my dad if something ever happened to mine) and I was completely enchanted with Green Gables. I have fond memories of visiting there before it burnt in the 1990s. (less)
I read this book almost twenty years ago. I was a kid and I have no idea how I ended up picking this book up. I know exactly WHERE I picked it up and...moreI read this book almost twenty years ago. I was a kid and I have no idea how I ended up picking this book up. I know exactly WHERE I picked it up and where I was when reading it, but why it called to me I don't know. What I do know is that this book spoke to me. I was enthralled by the story, by what the characters went through.
This novel taught me a lot of things.
1) History isn't as boring as I thought it was. Real people lived through some terrible and wonderful things. They had lives and loves. Turns out that if you can make history personal I'm much more interested in it. Even if its fictitious.
2) There is evil, real evil in our world. I mentioned I was young when I read this right? People do horrible things to other people. And mostly it gets glossed over unless you were the one living through it. People stand by and watch while humans are tortured and killed. They cheer for it. Or possibly worse yet, they pretend they don't see and they feel nothing for their fellow man who suffers. This broke my heart and I had only begun to see the edges of the depths of terror that man is capable of. I was a pretty sensitive kid. Just don't tell my younger self that.
3) People can find caring, loving communities anywhere. The women in this novel were able to form bonds and support each other in the worst of times. The scene where the guards demand women for sex and some of the old women volunteer to get the younger ones out of it moved me to tears. Its a scene that has stuck with me to the detail for almost twenty years. Clearly it was a winner in my mind. If volunteering for rape to save someone else isn't love I don't know what is.
4) Not everyone doing an awful job wants to be there nor do they necessarily want to do evil things. Some of the guards fragrantly broke rules for the prisoners. They showed kindness. They inflicted as little hurt as possible and formed relationships with the women they guarded. Not everyone (obviously) but some of them. They took risks to treat others with humanity. There were glimmers of hope from unexpected places.
5) This is the most awful of all, and terribly personal. Feel free to skip this one. I discovered that inherently awful things can be sexually stimulating. Not in reality, but if you don't think too closely about the people involved or use any empathy the description of a sex act can be exciting, even if you don't want it to be. Of course there are some consensual sex scenes in this novel too, and I wasn't conflicted about those one bit =) It was a terrifying thing for a 13 year old to discover. I wanted to be sick to my stomach, and I was. But I was intrigued, too.
I haven't read this book in at least 15 years (yes, I reread it several times) and I can still remember how I felt the first time I read it. I have vivid images of this book in my head that I'm sure I couldn't shake if I wanted to. To me, that makes a wonderful book. Even if I hadn't learned anything, which I clearly did. I can't say I'd recommend that a 13 year old pick this up, but it is certainly a worthwhile read. (less)
I have been putting off reviewing this book for far too long. Not because I have nothing to say about it but because I'm afraid my ability to put pen...moreI have been putting off reviewing this book for far too long. Not because I have nothing to say about it but because I'm afraid my ability to put pen to paper (so to speak) will not do justice to my thoughts and feelings about this book.
Yes, I am aware that this is a young adult novel, but this may be the most important book in my life. I first read it at the age of nine or ten and I'm sure that has something to with my reverence. This was the very first book I read that made me think, feel and question what I knew to be true. Sure the story itself is fantastical and wonderful, but it was never the story that I fell in love with. It was the thoughts and ideas that I loved (Oh, and I loved Jesse too. Hey, I was ten...)
Reading this book was the first time I ever questioned the idea of a Christian afterlife. It was the first time I had ever been introduced to the idea of reincarnation or the circle of life or the changing of life energy (or however you'd like to term that). My eyes were opened to the possibility of something else and it spoke to me so much that almost twenty years later I still hold out hope that reincarnation is what happens to us when we die.
But not just that, I began to see time as its own entity. And for once, time was not on my side. Death isn't something I thought about much as a child; it was a remote possibility and I had all the time in the world on my side before I had to face that. This book made me consider life and death. I began to see death as a natural part of life. Admittedly, re-reading the conversation in the book where Winnie is explained this to is less compelling now. In fact, for an adult its a little too obvious and the metaphor is a bit heavy handed. However, this book wasn't written for adults. I was exactly the right audience the first time I read this and this book rocked my world right down to the core.
This was also my first experience with an ethical dilemma. The idea that doing the wrong thing for the right reason could actually be doing the right thing blew my mind. Until I read this book the world was black and white for me. This was when I began to understand that actions and situations can be grey. That there can be no right answer to hard questions and no good solution to your problems.
I have reread this book every couple of years or so. Each time I do I have two wonderful experiences: I get something new out of it and I enjoy it in that ten year old part of my brain. Every time I read it, this book makes me cry and think and question my assumptions about life. As I get older its a wonderful reminder that I don't have in infinite amount of time in this life and that I should be living to my fullest degree. I think reading this book for the first time as an adult you'll miss the magic I felt when I read it as a child, however, this book is still a charming, thoughtful read and I recommend it to everyone.(less)