Book Review: Anne Of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me

Anne Of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me: What My Favorite Book Taught Me About Grace, Belonging & The Orphan In Us All: A Memoir, by Lorilee Craker


[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Books in exchange for an honest review.]

I find it curious that this sort of book should be written fairly often these days [1] but that it should be written, at least from what I have seen so far, nearly exclusively by women. I know of no one, for example, who seeks to travel to India to go on a pilgrimage to the sites of the Jungle Book, or to Congo for a travel memoir of Heart of Darkness, or even an examination of rural Mississippi for Falkner’s tales, although these would no doubt also be worthy memoirs, but instead it is women authors who have decided to run with the idea of writing about how their own lives intersect with their favorite novels. Like the other books I have read, this one has relevance to me in unsettling ways, some of which I must leave to readers of the book to uncover, and some of which are worthy of discussion here. For one, this book is a tearjerker about the shared experiences as an orphan (often with poor fathers) between the author, her adopted Korean daughter (both of whom were born out of illegitimacy), and the experiences of Anne Shirley (better known as Anne of Green Gables) and her author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

The book itself is somewhat haphazardly organized, but its contents are likely to appeal to those who appreciate Anne of Green Gables or who have a soft spot in their hearts for waifish people who are full of energy and good intentions but are somewhat clumsy and awkward in their execution, and prone to being painfully misunderstood and yet unceasing in their efforts to win over others through friendliness and sheer goodwill. This book, which focuses on two of the Montgomery novels (Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island), also examines what makes Gilbert so dreamy, what makes her foster father Matthew such a wonderful adopted father, and explores the horrors of catty mean girls and the importance of finding bosom friends as well as understanding spouses. The book manages to weave together the narratives of the author and her attempts to get in touch with her birth mother and father (the father comes off very badly here), the narrative of her adopted daughter, who was given up for adoption by her unmarried South Korean mother, whose father was not a very honorable man either, apparently, as well as the story of the orphan Anne and the orphan Lucy Maud Montgomery, whose father continually failed her and whose life of torment ended in an accidental drug overdose that was also a potential suicide.

Over and over again this book is full of a longing for love, of the love of parents, of the love of children, of loving friends and fellow writers, of spouses, and of the love of God. The author is honest, painfully honest, about her own struggles, her own follies, and her own dramatic life experiences. It is clear that her own life and the love she was able to receive from her adopted parents was able to help overcome what could have been some serious shortcomings. Her struggles to find peace of mind and to help other strangers and outcasts of the world as she was helped by her own adoptive parents are easy to relate to, and her writing is moving and clear. Her love as a mother is also fierce and strong, and it is clear that she has been loved enough to be able to love others well. As is often the case with a book like this, the last words of the book say a lot about the message that the author wants to send, and in this case it is a very worthwhile one: “I can tell her she’s worth fighting for. I can tell her that our cracked stories don’t have the last word, not by a long shot. Baby girl, believe that the best things like around the bend in the road. Stay fascinated with the road beyond. Speak in your own tongue and minister to the needs of humanity. Never forget. I can tell her that our heart-bones are healing because we belong to Jehovah Rapha. He said that there could be a better way; that all things could be made new. Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted. We all want to belong. He said he would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us. He never forgets the children whose names are written in the palm of His hand. God makes us belong. He is enough. At every bend in the road, our Father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms. And we are orphans no more.” This is a book to read, to treasure, but it is a book full of the sadness of melancholy longing, full of the tears of love for broken people in a broken world that many of us shed for ourselves and others, even when they cannot see our concern.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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