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Anna's World

A book by Wim Coleman

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Shaking Things Up

  • Sep 12, 2009
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As an adult writer who dabbles in on-line reviews, I am often told that I should be paid for my work. Now, I am certainly not arguing this point. I can think of nothing better than to be graciously paid for the achievement of putting thoughts through pen to paper. Writing enables one for all time to capture an elicited emotion like an elixir in the sentimental little bottle that the unnamed narrator in Du Maurier's Rebecca refers to that once uncorked would allow one to conjure and relive a favorite moment from the past. My reviews are collected then like bottles of tincture on a shelf--they hone my skill of exposition and simultaneously act as a record of what I have seen, read and more importantly what my brain dwelt upon at that moment in time. I can, so to speak, decanter what had passed through my mind and juxtapose it with a specific time reference--personally or universally historic--in terms of milestones in creative development. It's a choice.

In this context, `getting paid' becomes the least important aspect of the entire operation. The frustration and joy of creating such a record surely surpasses any remuneration; the wonder of being followed and read a delightful side benefit. Nevertheless, the age-old discussions revolving around whether or not the actual satisfaction of doing a job one loves should be payment enough will continue with or without my opinions. The question reduces to whether or not anything of merit should be attempted without the promise of monetary compensation. What then makes an endeavor, any endeavor worthwhile? Said in another way, should innocent ideals that promote happiness and wellbeing be scrapped because they do not reach for or glean materialistic glamour and status in the everyday world? For me, the posing of this question and all its implications seems to be the theme of the young adult novel by husband and wife team Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin entitled "Anna's World."

Anna, a young girl recovering from typhoid fever in 1845 Massachusetts, recovers at a Shaker village while she awaits the return of her father, a small town shopkeeper who must rebuild his livelihood in the wake of the natural disaster of flood. Unsettled due to her alien and austere surroundings, Anna finds it difficult to assimilate into the Shaker community of celibate brothers and sisters who believe that work and the sharing of the real time fruits of labor would insure the construction of a veritable paradise on earth. For her, the rules stifle and the day that her father will come and take her away cannot come soon enough.

However, as each day passes she realizes what many adults still have not discovered in our modern day. To live means to change and grow--the desire for a routine scenario of which other people approve and in which one feels safe and secure means only stagnation and an emphasis on mundane problems and issues that indeed link us to the miseries of the world, but do not allow us the infinite license to create and shape our own lives by nurturing the needs of the soul. A world that does not change affords us the ability to control that world, but in the same instance does not allow growth. Paradoxically, the absence of growth suggests the absence of fully living.

When Anna returns to her life with her father, she finds that her Shaker life has infused her with a desire for simple joys that are not forthcoming in wealthy Bostonian society. Authors Coleman and Perrin masterfully build on Anna's half-constructed view of the world with a marvelous juxtaposition of what really matters and what matters naught as seen through Anna's growing sensibilities. Well done!

The pages of Anna's World describe the everyday life and morals of the Shaker community. It touches upon the transcendental lifestyles of the great minds of the time--most notably by the presence of civil disobedient Henry David Thoreau of Walden Pond fame. There is a modern corollary between today's military operations in Iraq and those of that period's Mexican War that the author's present quite nicely from the burgeoning awareness of the young protagonist. But most of all it serves its readers well with its delightful message of a young woman's coming to terms with what will make her happy in life in spite of the past's expectations and those of other people who do not understand the wonder of simple joys.

Bottom line: Anna's World is a fast and fascinating novel that will definitely enchant young readers. Although rich as a descriptive simulation of a community of men and women that still exist (although just barely) today and evocative of a memoir of the history of a young America from the vantage points of not only the young girl but prominent personalities of that time, the story's main strength is in its presentation of a lovely coming of age tale that focuses on living life to the fullest extent with an eye on the needs of the soul. Parents should be aware of an anti-war sentiment that echoes the current Afghanistan/Iraq conundrum. However, no matter what side of the issues your sentiments lay, Anna's World's true value is in the empowering of the young protagonist to make good choices that reflect her growing integrity and nobility. Highly recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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More Anna's World reviews
review by . May 07, 2010
It's the 1840's and 14 year old Anna Coburn has had her world turned upside down. After typhoid kills many and weakens Anna, and a flood ruins her town and her father's business, Anna is sent to live with the Shakers while her father tries to make them a new life in Boston.      Anna isn't used to the beliefs and rules of the serious Shaker community and she finds herself longing to be with her father and the life she once knew and had. But when that day finally …
review by . September 03, 2009
So far, and I stress so far, this YA book has gleaned three national awards. It was Top Award-Winner in the "Fiction & Literature: Young Adult Fiction" category. The work was a Silver Medal Winner, 2008 - Moonbeam Children's Books Award and First Place Winner in the "Teen Fiction" category from Reader Views Literary Awards. To be honest, it deserved each of these and so very much more. This is one of the better YA books I have had the pleasure of reading over the past five years.    As …
review by . August 26, 2009
is a historical novel aimed at the young teen audience, but there's plenty here to make an adult smile too. Young Anna Coburn's life is turned upside down in 1845 when floods destroy her father's store and bring typhoid to her town. Needing to focus on rebuilding their future, he places Anna in a Shaker community where she finds life restrictive and longs for the day when he'll take her away again.    Authors Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin paint a rich picture of this strange and …
review by . August 18, 2009
This young adult novel is set in the 1840s, and provides a valuable historical lesson into the daily life of a Shaker community of that time.       After a devastating flood destroys her father's business and wreaks havoc in her hometown, fourteen year old Anna is sent to live in a Shaker community until he gets back on his feet. Time passes slowly, and Anna has some difficulty adjusting to the lifestyle, but thanks to a wonderful teacher, she is introduced to poetry and further …
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #167
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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About this book


The United States of America in the late 1840s--a nation torn by the crime of slavery and a war of conquest in Mexico. Fourteen-year-old Anna Coburn doesn't want to grapple with such terrible issues. Just growing up seems awful enough. Forced from her home and away from her beloved father, Anna is sent to live among the stern people called Shakers. Their strange ways and strict lifestyle are both appealing and difficult for the bright, headstrong Anna. When reunited with her father, Anna is then plunged into upper-class Boston life, where she faces a troubling mystery, new responsibilities, and events that will affect not just herself and her loved ones, but a country about to come apart at the seams. With a cast that includes Henry David Thoreau, a perceptive Shaker schoolmistress, and a murderous false friend, Anna's World is a powerful coming of age story, widely praised for its vivid characters, gripping plot, and moral stature.

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ISBN-10: 1935178067
ISBN-13: 978-1935178064
Author: Wim Coleman
Publisher: Chiron Books

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"Stirred and Shakered"
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