Review by Paula Vince
A charming and heartwarming true story for anyone who has ever longed for a place to belong. “Anne of Green Gables,” My Daughter, and Me is a witty romp through the classic novel; a visit to the magical shores of Prince Edward Island; and a poignant personal tale of love, faith, and loss.
And it all started with a simple question: “What’s an orphan?” The words from her adopted daughter, Phoebe, during a bedtime reading of Anne of Green Gables stopped Lorilee Craker in her tracks. How could Lorilee, who grew up not knowing her own birth parents, answer Phoebe’s question when she had wrestled all her life with feeling orphaned—and learned too well that not every story has a happy ending?
So Lorilee set off on a quest to find answers in the pages of the very book that started it all, determined to discover—and teach her daughter—what home, family, and belonging really mean. If you loved the poignancy of Orphan Train and the humor of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, you will be captivated by “Anne of Green Gables,” My Daughter, and Me. It’s a beautiful memoir that deftly braids three lost girls’ stories together, speaks straight to the heart of the orphan in us all, and shows us the way home at last.
I enjoy memoirs which are based around the author's love of a particular book. Especially when it happens to be one I've also loved for decades. Our favourite books do help shape our lives, and that's worth celebrating, as Lorilee Craker has done here.
The adoption aspect is particularly meaningful to the author. She herself was adopted as a baby, and later, she and her husband adopted a baby girl from Korea to join their family of two boys. I started off expecting that many of the points wouldn't apply to me, but I was in for a surprise. It's well worth reading just to discover how many of us may carry aspects of the orphan heart without knowing it, whether that comes from being rejected, snubbed, shunned, left behind or failing to make a grade. That probably covers pretty much everyone at some time.
She sums up episodes from Anne's life with funny, twenty-first century insights and parallels, and as the reader, I couldn't help remembering some of my own too. It's essentially a book for female readers, and we can probably all identify our own kindred spirit Diana Barrys, mean girl Josie Pyes, and if we're lucky, love-of-our-life Gilbert Blythes, through the years.
We love Gilbert for the way he stayed devoted to Anne for so long, and how she realised that this 'boy next door' was more of a Prince Charming than the dark, handsome, mythical men she conjured up in her own head, or their look-alikes. It helps us to appreciate the men in our own lives with fresh eyes. And as for Josie Pye, Craker points out that these girls are everywhere, and don't rise to positions of influence without our permission. She discusses graceful ways of dealing with the Josie Pye spirit when we come face to face with it.
The true meaning of the word 'real' is delved into. When it comes to families, although many may assume this means your biological folk, this is not necessarily the case. The love felt for adoptive family members becomes biological anyway, as depth of feeling releases hormones and bonding chemicals. I love how although Lorilee met her birth mother and extended family, and got along well with them, she still honoured her first family in her heart, because of their shared love and lifetime of experiences.
We've all seen how many adopted people decide to seek their biological parents as if it's a search for the holy grail. I took it as a nudge for those of us who have always had a birth mothers and fathers around, to not forget to honour and appreciate them in the same way.
Thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for my review copy.
Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.