As a child i remember having one of those illustrated, abridged versions, but i don't remember anything about the story. Perhaps i never read it.
I read it the first time for real only 10 years ago.
My best friend at the time was M, a former competitive swimmer with a shaved head and shoulders wide as a house. Her life had been derailed by PTSD, depression and a string of suicide attempts. Her parents were preachers, off in the Northwest Territories somewhere spreading their vile, homophobic brand of Christianity. She had dropped out of college and was living in a women's shelter. We met at the boxing gym.
When i was hospitalized during a particularly bad episode of manic depression, she came to visit a few times. She loved young adult fiction, and loaned me her copy of Anne of Green Gables.
I loved it. Anne was so wholesome and positive and able to face the worst situations far better than i, or M, or anyone we knew could. Anne gave me hope. She gave me strength. Anne wasn't enough for M, who committed suicide later that year.
Recently the CBC started a new televised version of Anne of Green Gables, which i think is also on Netflix.
It is such a good show.
What the writers have done is taken the story of Anne, and kept her as a cheerful orphan adopted by aging siblings in rural PEI, but modernized it by making her a social justice warrior too. This Anne lives in 19th century Canada with people who are gay and black and indigenous. She witnesses their oppression, as well as the oppression of her fellow women, and it pains her. Like the Anne of the books, she strives to open the minds and the hearts of the people around her.
Mostly, she succeeds.
This season has had a particularly poignant storyline about the Indian residential school system, which is one of the most shameful parts of Canadian history. For those who don't know: from the early 1800s the government forcibly removed indigenous children from their families and sent them off to Christian boarding schools, where the Indian was beaten out of them. Many died. This might be the one time Anne won't be able to help set things right. In the real world, the abuse continued right into the 1990s.
But this season also has the teen melodrama of Anne realizing that she really is in love with Gilbert after all. There is a metoo storyline. There is a bit on freedom of the press. Contemporary issues are woven through everything.
Through it all is the fierce optimism of Anne, her unwavering belief in doing the right thing and seeking justice and liberty for all. Living here in a fascist state, watching all the shit going on everywhere else in the world, it makes me despair. But in Anne's world things will be alright.
It's a total feel-good show, one i can heartily recommend for anyone feeling blue.
It won't stop you feeling blue, but it'll help you forget for a bit.