Review: Mariko Tamaki Reimagines ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in the Best Way in ‘Anne of Greenville’
Mariko Tamaki has reimagined Lucy Maude Montgomery’s beloved classic, Anne of Green Gables, in the best possible way in her new YA novel, Anne of Greenville, which hit bookshelves on October 4, 2022. Known for Skim, This One Summer, and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, the two-time Michael L. Printz Award nominee has taken on her most ambitious project yet with her heartfelt and groovy reimagining of Montgomery’s classic.
For over a century, Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, has been beloved by millions of readers across generations. Anne Shirley is a heroin for the ages with her spunk, imagination, and knack for getting into scrapes. While viewers love the original Anne, Tamaki has created another Anne for the modern reader. Anne of Greenville‘s Anne boasts the same spunk, heart, and imagination as her predecessor, but she’s also a queer, BIPOC, and disco-obsessed high school student.
Anne of Greenville follows Anne, as she moves to Greenville with her two mothers, Lucy and Millie. The small town is filled with racist and homophobic residents who don’t appreciate Anne’s identity nor her roller-skating shows, disco ball decorations, orange hair, and bright, spunky outfits. However, in the face of horrific treatment, Anne fights to maintain her spirit as she tackles high school, finds her true true, and learns to be apologetically Anne of Greenville.
Anne of Greenville is the perfect Anne of Green Gables reimagining
As a diehard fan of Anne of Green Gables who has read and reread the entire 8-book series multiple times, I can say with certainty that Anne of Greenville is a worthy reimagining. Tamaki flawlessly captures Montgomery’s original tone and spirit, while also creating her own voice to resonate with the modern reader. Like the classic, Anne of Greenville celebrates imagination, spunk, and being a little offbeat and quirky. From the very first chapter, readers will fall in love with Anne as she performs a roller-skating show and hangs disco balls all over town. She’s as uniquely Anne as the original Anne of Green Gables was.
Additionally, the underlying story is about friendship and companionship. In Greenville, Anne meets her kindred spirit, Berry, and also experiences her first crush on Gilly. No matter how bad things get, Anne realizes what it means to have a true friend by her side through it all in the form of Berry. She also experiences all the typical high school phases of having a crush and finding true love in unexpected place. Anne of Greenville covers all of the major themes of Anne of Gables such as celebrating imagination and friendship, and exploring young love.
However, Anne of Greenville goes much deeper than Anne of Green Gables, in that Anne isn’t just being judged for having red hair, freckles, and wearing flowers in her hair and talking to trees. Anne is being attacked just for the mere facts of her existence – because she’s queer and BIPOC. Meanwhile, the treatment she faces is quite a lot more intense than Avonlea’s minor nitpicks and gossip about Anne. In Anne of Greenville, Tamaki truly puts the reader in the shoes of someone who is being discriminated against and attacked on nearly every front.
Anne is the best protagonist in Anne of Greenville
Anne of Greenville, though, isn’t just a mere observation of a young girl being treated terribly. Nor is it an unrealistic tale of an entire town changing to accept someone different. What Anne of Greenville is, is a tale of a young girl who refuses to let the rest of the world change her. As she belts out the notes of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” boldly asks her crush to the dance, and ditches her white t-shirt and jeans for her signature vintage, sued, and sparkly clothing, she reaches out to the modern viewer, letting them know that they aren’t alone and encouraging them with her strength to keep fighting.
In addition to the homage to Montgomery and powerful LGBTQ+ representation, Anne of Greenville is a very fun book. It is bold and hilarious, filled with references to disco-era hits in a way that almost gives the book its own soundtrack. There are also as many Anne of Green Gables references as there are disco references. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will be delighted at how many clever ways Anne of Greenville ties to the original classic. Nearly every name, flashback, and major incident is hiding ties to Anne of Green Gables.
Ultimately, Tamaki has effectively reimagined a classic in Anne of Greenville. She captured the heart and spirit of the classic, while also making it relatable to the modern reader. The book speaks to all the Annes of the world and encourages them to never give up their identity, their passions, their fashion, and their quirks regardless of what everyone else thinks.
(featured image: Shawnee Custalow, Melissa de la Cruz Studio)
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