It’s both a wonderful and frightening thing to reread a book you loved as a child. It’s been ten years since I read Anne of Green Gables. It was one of my most favorite books of all when I was entering my teens but I’ve put off rereading it because I was afraid I’d find I didn’t like it anymore, or that it no longer holds the magic for me as it did when I was a child.
For a long time I felt cheated somehow, like the stories I loved so much as a child had lied to me about the world. I still loved Anne but had this nagging sensation that her optimism was nothing more than glorified naivete. But rereading the book I found the opposite to be true. Anne was an orphan, before she came to Green Gables–/all/ she knew was adversity and she continues to face harsh realities even in her new life such as estrangement from her bosom friend and the death of someone she dearly loved.
It was /because/ of the world’s brokenness that she turned to imagination. She had the miraculous gift of finding beauty everywhere, even in the darkest of places. As an adult, I appreciate that far more than I did as a child because I now understand how dark the darkness really is. At 11, even being an orphan sounded romantic. At 21, I hear all the things Anne /doesn’t/ say when she describes her life as an orphan. I now can sympathize with and smile in a different way at Anne’s lament, “It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”
Contrary to my fears, I find I love the book more than ever now. I’m not the same person as when I read Anne of Green Gables the first time. It’s so strange and wonderful at the same time to be able to reread the book and find both my 11 year old and 21 year old self between the pages. Finding Anne grown up and changed at the book’s end was painful to relive because I felt more keenly the pain of change in my own life in the ten years since I first fell in love with Anne, yet that makes the book’s hope-filled ending all the more dear to me now:
“Anne’s horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen’s; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!
“God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,'” whispered Anne softly.”