A sweet and funny story of coming-of-age, but with a fair amount of irreverence toward God.
Sixteen-year-old Anne Shirley has stayed in Avonlea to teach school and be near Marilla, but even though she is nearly an adult with adult-sized responsibilities, she still finds plenty of time to get into scrapes. Getting out of them is less easy.
"Anne of Avonlea" is the story of how Anne crosses the threshold between girlhood and womanhood: cultivating patience, learning from mistakes, and leaving some of her girlish fantasies behind.
Characters in the tale, especially Marilla Cuthbert, have a strong sense of morality and tend to do what is right. Marilla and Anne adopt twin children - Davy and Dora - out of kindness and good will after their mother dies; the former of these is even worse about getting into trouble than Anne was in the previous story. Not all of his antics are accidents, either, and some of them go beyond the mischievous. For instance, Davy locks up his sister in the woodshed and then blatantly lies to Marilla and Anne about Dora's whereabouts, also suggesting morbidly that she may have fallen into the well. This kind of behaviour, though, is never condoned.
Some background characters exhibit such traits as stinginess and severe stubbornness, and some children of Avonlea school are disagreeable and cruel, but such behavior is also not shown in a favorable light.
A smattering of references to church, God, and ministers. Mrs. Lynde finds it necessary to comment scornfully upon the defects of every minister who ever has, and ever shall, preach in the Avonlea church, but also finds it absolutely necessary to be present every Sunday (as much to gossip with the other women as worship God). Anne, however, improves in her knowledge of God and her feelings about Him.
Anne raps an offending child with a ruler at one point, and, as mentioned above, Davy proposes that the missing Dora has fallen down a well and drowned.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Marilla receives a letter from the twins' uncle before adopting them, in which he says that he is "working in a lumber camp and 'shacking up'". Neither Marilla nor Anne know what the expression means. Otherwise, there are a few chaste kisses.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
"Oh Lord" from Mrs. Lynde, and then the use of light slang from Davy: "whopper" for "lie" and such. Davy also questions, at one point, Mrs. Lynde's use of the Lord's name.
Lighthearted and well-written, "Anne of Avonlea" is a funny and compelling tale of young romance and the trials of growing up. It's a worthy read for girls passing through the same stage in life, for Anne's gentleness, patience, and hard-working spirit all make her an excellent role model. Readers should, however, watch out for the irreverent attitude most strongly displayed by the venerable Mrs. Lynde.