When I was about seven years old, my grandparents took a chartered bus tour to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They brought me my very own red-haired Anne doll, as well as a copy of Anne of Green Gables. On days my grandparents picked me up from school, I insisted my grandmother put on the 1985 two-part film. Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite heroines growing up, and, in a spell of nostalgia, I chose to re-read the book a few weeks ago.
Anne of Green Gables, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it, is about an orphan girl who is (mistakenly) adopted by an older brother and sister. The book chronicles her adventures in Avonlea, a fictional town on PEI, and is a classic coming of age novel. I thoroughly enjoyed going back to Green Gables once again to watch Anne accidentally get her bestie drunk, become resolute in her endeavor to be the top in the class, and surpass everyone’s expectations.
When I was younger, Anne’s ambition in school motivated me to study more, while her love for reading inspired my own. This time around, Anne’s decision to decline a scholarship to college in order to care for her adoptive mother helped me realize that it’s okay to channel your ambitions in places you didn’t plan to. Sometimes life happens, and things go awry, but there’s always something to look forward to. Thanks, Anne, for once again sharing a very important life-lesson.
So how about you? Do you love Anne of Green Gables? Is there a book from many years ago you reread and learned something new from?
Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. Bantam Books (Classics,) 1982. First published 1908.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Young Adult fiction. For some reason, once I went to college, I felt that YA wasn’t sophisticated enough (it probably had something to do with befriending several literature majors.) Anyways, I found this book through Pinterest, and decided to read it without really knowing what it was about.
The Program is a dystopian novel set in nearly present-day America. Teen suicide rates have skyrocketed and the government, in an attempt to save the young generation, formulate The Program. While their intentions seem noble, The Program “rehabilitates” suicidal teens by tampering their memories. Instead of sending the teens to grief counseling or having a psychiatrist treat them (many have lost friends or family members to suicide,) The Program removes their memories completely. When the young folks return to society, they are not the same people they were before, having lost large chunks of their identity and experiences.
The book follows Sloane who, months after her brother’s suicide, finds herself closely monitored by The Program. She and her boyfriend, James, fear they will be taken at any moment. and that, if taken, they will not be able to hold on to each other and they will return unable to recognize each other.
Much to my surprise, this was an exciting read for me. The writing was good, the plot was interesting, and the pace was fast. The one problem I had with the novel, and with a lot of dystopian literature in general, was the lack of background. How many children have gone into The Program? Were other methods tried? Why did the government think tampering with people’s minds (the books alluded to lobotomies) was preferred over counseling and psychiatry? How large was the suicide epidemic? What types of treatment do they plan for adults who have also experienced grief? Hopefully, the sequel will offer insight into these questions.
The Program. Suzanne Young. Simon Pulse, 2013.
It’s February and in honor of Black History Month I decided to read a book by a Black author. While I specialized in Afro-Caribbean thought in my university studies (wow, that’s one of the more pretentious things I’ve typed in a while,) I’ve read very little African American literature. Enter Maya Angelou.
I borrowed this book from my mom, and I could not put it down. From my understanding, Angelou wrote numerous autobiographies and this one chronicled her childhood in Arkansas, St. Louis, and San Fransisco. Angelou’s accounts are at times hilarious and heart-warming; other stories are heart-breaking and intense.
I found Angelou’s writing style to be simple, yet beautiful. I moved quickly through her book and was emotionally moved on several occasions. Her book recounts the difficulty of growing up in a segregated town in the deep south, the instability of her own family, and the relationships that had a lasting impact on her life. If you haven’t read this one already, you should.
Maya Angelou. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Ballentine Books, 2009 (first published in 1969).
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking had been on my reading list for a few years. After watching Susan Cain’s TED Talk in college, I became committed to learning more about introversion, since I classify myself as an extreme introvert. Cain’s book was a wonderful complement to her Talk, as it delved deeper into the psychological characteristics of introverts.
At first glance, this may not seem like the most enthralling book, especially for you crazy extroverts. However, Cain discusses the importance of introverts in today’s world and looks at how extroverts can better understand and interact with the introverts in their lives. She uses stories to highlight the ways in which introverts experience the world and examines the way American society values extroversion over introversion.
Quiet was a quick read for me and I found myself identifying with so many of the people Cain introduced. From the introverted child who became overwhelmed at school, to the introverted woman who sacrificed her emotional needs to better suit her extroverted partner, Cain’s examples were well chosen. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to introverts who sometimes wonder how to fit into extroverted society. If you’re an extrovert, give Quiet a chance: you undoubtedly share your life with an introvert, and Cain’s work will help you appreciate them more.
Susan Cain. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Crown Publishing Group/ Random House, Inc. 2012.