It took me a little over two years, but I finally finished the 26 book reading challenge! I ended the two-year endeavor with the category “a book you love, read it again,” with Anne of Green Gables. I read this book so many times between 4th and 6th grade that I lost count of how many rereads I’d gone through. For some reason though, after 12-years-old, I stopped going back to Anne’s adventures on Prince Edward Island. Maybe I felt too grown up for such childish dreams, or maybe I simply didn’t have time with all the books in the world to read. Whatever the reason, after nearly 15 years, I decided with this reading challenge it was time to go back to Avonlea.
From the moment I opened to the first page and read the familiar lines a smile spread over my face and a warmth spread through me, like the feeling I get when I’m reunited with old friends who make me feel like I’m home. Even after 15 years, I still knew the words by heart, like my favorite song that I sing along to on the radio every time it comes on. My reintroduction to Anne Shirley at 26-years-old was as magical as that first time at 9-years-old. Just like when I was a child, I devoured the poetic language of the hopeful protagonist who chose to see the beauty around her despite having been through ugly situations her entire life. Those negative aspects of Anne’s life became more poignant to me now, especially after having watched the Netflix series Anne with an E, and I realized just how tumultuous her early years really were.
I still laughed at all the scrapes Anne got herself into, from flying off the handle at Mrs. Rachel Lynde to accidentally getting Diana drunk off wine she thought was raspberry cordial. What struck me most though, was how little I remembered of Anne’s later years, when she starts studying for the Queen’s entrance exams, goes on to win the Avery scholarship and dealing with the grief of losing Matthew. I guess I hadn’t paid much attention to “grownup” Anne when I was a kid because I just couldn’t relate to such things. Now though, reading about her anxieties with school and her ambitions, I see myself in Anne more than ever. Descriptions of how she felt being away from home, learning to cope with homesickness and eventually falling into a routine and comfort of studying, with less frequent visits home, brought back the memories of my undergrad years when I’d first graduated high school and went to college, living on my own for the first time.
The chapter of Matthew’s death struck me harder than I ever remember it from my childhood. Again, at the time, I hadn’t seen as much death as I have now, so it never hit that close to home. Having watched my friends’ and family’s loved ones pass away though over the last four years alone, Matthew Cuthbert’s death on the page hurt twice as much as it had when I was a kid reading the book. Moreover, Anne’s grieving process of delayed tears made so much more sense to me now than it did when I was a child.
I’m so glad I reread Anne of Green Gables during this particular time in my adult life. It felt like I was growing up with her all over again. Hopefully my next read won’t be so many years apart, but no matter what, I know I will always come home to Green Gables when the time is right, just like Anne.
What are your favorite childhood books and how have you felt about them when rereading as an adult?