Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me
Lorilee Craker (Adult Memoir)
“What’s an orphan?” This spontaneous and innocent question from her seven-year old daughter stopped Lorilee Craker in her tracks. Phoebe had asked it during their bedtime reading of Anne of Green Gables. But as Craker explains, “The word orphan is six letters fraught with baggage.” Just like Anne Shirley, Craker herself had been adopted, as was her daughter, Phoebe. Three women (four if you count Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery, who herself was adopted) sharing a bond of abandonment, loneliness, and exclusion, but discovering that just beyond the bend await friendship, joy, love, and a sense of belonging.
Craker describes Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me as “part memoir and part Anne super-fan book”. For ardent fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables’ series (myself included), this book serves as a fond (and perhaps long overdue) reunion with our beloved Anne Shirley, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, Gilbert Blythe, and the rest of our dear friends in Avonlea. Craker uses excerpts from Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island to introduce chapters dealing with friendship, bullying, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and loss. Although society’s views on adoption, adoptees, and adoptive parents have changed over the decades, the feelings Anne Shirley experiences at the beginning of the twentieth century remain just as relevant today. Who can’t relate to feeling not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not tall enough…shall I go on? Anne Shirley transcends time, region, and language to show that we all long to be accepted, respected, and loved.
Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me is more than just a memoir. It is a love letter to God, orphans, adoptive parents, Lucy Maud Montgomery, fans, and a little red-headed foundling who is all “spirit, fire, and dew”. Craker writes, “There is a crack in everyone—that’s how the light gets in.” A fracture that when the light hits it, allows us to show mercy, offer forgiveness, experience love, and accept grace. Perhaps in that respect, there is a little orphan in each of us.
Craker reminded me of the thing that I most admire about Anne Shirley and that is her unfailing perseverance and unwavering optimism. Even after falling off a roof, dyeing her hair green, and inadvertently intoxicating her bosom friend, it’s our Anne (with an “e”) that said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Yes, Anne. It is very nice.
*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com