The process of growing up is filled with emotional extremes. Like Anne Shirley, one moment you may be filled with sublime joy at the beauty of the trees along the pathway you’ve dubbed the White Way of Delight and the next, you are in the depths of despair — your life a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. L.M. Montgomery’s series portrays the intense tragicomedy of adolescence with insight and wit. Young readers looking for reads that capture some of the luminous, coming of age feel of the Anne of Green Gables series might enjoy the following books:
- When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad
An orphaned ten year Inge goes to live with her grandmother on a distant island in Denmark after the death of her mother. Like Anne, Inge is growing up close to the turn of the century and she leaves an indelible mark on the community that becomes her new home.
- Real Friends by Shannon Hale
Middle school is tough. This autobiographical graphic book tells a story of growing up and the vicissitudes of friendships. Shannon and Adrienne face challenges to their long term friendship in the form of a clique called The Group, led by a girl named Jen. Will their friendship survive?
- Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Twelve year old Deza is neither an orphan nor Canadian but she is also a young girl with a sparkling personality who excels academically. Her loving family, consisting of her brother Jimmie and her parents, is struggling to get by as best they can during the Great Depression in the United States.
Teens and adults who have retained their active imaginations and are capital R Romantics at heart might try some of these titles:
- Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
We know, recommending another book by the author of the Anne books is cheating a little bit and we like to find modern readalikes for you. However, the Emily of New Moon books by the same author about another orphan girl growing up on Prince Edward Island are unparalleled in capturing the feeling of the Anne books. In this book (the first of a trilogy), Emily goes to live with her aunts on the island after her father dies of tuberculosis. Like L.M. Montgomery, Emily aspires to be a writer and, like Anne Shirley, has a wild imagination.
- Red: A History of the Redhead by Jackie Collis Harvey
Yes, it’s another work of nonfiction and not a novel but Anne spends so much time obsessing about her red hair that it seemed necessary to recommend a cultural deep dive into the social history of red hair. Harvey delves into history, genetics, art, stereotypes, and modern culture in this book that Anne would doubtless have strong opinions about.
- Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
Be warned, this is a much darker story than L.M. Montgomery’s text and contains murder, obsession, and acts of profound cruelty. It is a narrative that crosses generations, jumps around in time, and, oddly enough, features another Canadian named Anne, who is the niece of the protagonist Connie. Connie is a reporter covering the rape and murder of a young girl in the Ottawa Valley. The investigation leads her on an intersect course with a troubling time from her own past.
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin
Set in New England rather than Canada, this story is about ten year old, orphaned Rebecca who goes to live with her aunts. Rebecca feels like she could have been a kindred spirit to Anne with her soaring imagination and charm. This book was published in the early 1900s, almost exactly at the same as Anne of Green Gables.
For more Anne of Green Gables readalikes, we suggest checking out these links, some of which provided suggestions that inspired our own recommendations. Thank you to our colleague Audrey, who helped us research readalikes for this blog post:
- 5 Books Like Anne of Green Gables
- 12 New Books for Anne of Green Gables Fans
- Lovely Books for Readers Who Like Anne of Green Gables
The cultural footprint of L.M. Montgomery’s novel is so deep that there is practically an entire genre of Anne of Green Gables retellings. Here is a selection of a few if you should wish to look into any of them: