Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books—and movies. The book was a bestseller in 1908 and has been made into movies, cartoons, stage plays, and more. It’s a literary classic that tells about the adventures of an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who ends up living with—and becoming family with—an old maid and bachelor siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who live on a farm on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
It’s a simple story about the journey of a girl finding her way in a small town, in school, and in relationships. Anne is always looking for “kindred spirits”—people whom she can relate to and love—whether it’s a best friend, a caregiver, or her future husband.
As a novelist, my job is to create characters who become kindred spirits with the reader. Characters who come alive, inspire the reader, and provide life lessons along the way. As readers, we want to relate to the characters, whether they are contemporary, historical, or fantasy.
Just like us, these characters are on a journey of change, and the reader gets to go on a journey with them. They evolve and grow, have successes and make mistakes, just like us. And we become kindred spirits with them as we learn from their story.
In my novel, readers experience the journey of two women—one, an 1850s Irish immigrant and the other, her great-great-granddaughter. Both face many challenges and changes, just like us. And both experience growth, successes, and failures, like us. And, I hope, become kindred spirits to the readers.
The book characters who become a part of our lives are ones who live real lives, face real sorrow and heartache, experience love and loss. And, I believe, draw closer to God in the process—ideally, just like us. How all that happens is as unique in our own individual lives as it is in the hundreds of thousands of book characters’ lives. That’s what makes reading fun, exciting, and inspiring. And that’s why we love to read.
Who are your favorite book characters, and why? I’d love to know!
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