The Blue Castle is a remarkable stand-alone novel by L. M. Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series. Marketed for age twelve and up, I find it a better read for older teens. I enjoyed reading it as an adult.

Valancy, known to all her relations by the hateful nickname Doss, leads a repressed existence in small-town Canada of the 1920s. Her life is dull and predictable. Often ill and perpetually reminded of how unattractive she is, Doss is at the mercy of her mother’s moods and her uncle’s threats to cut her out of his will. With no marriage in sight, Doss needs the goodwill of her relatives to guarantee a roof over her head for years to come.

On the rainy morning of her twenty-ninth birthday, Valancy discovers she has an incurable heart ailment and cannot live longer than one year. Shocked that she might die never having really lived, Valancy embarks on a series of adventures that scandalizes her entire clan. She learns to enjoy the beauty of nature, to care for the needy, to work, to make decisions, to love, to laugh, in short, to embrace authentic personhood.

Just when you are sure you’ve figured out the ending, you haven’t. There are unpredictable twists and turns for the reader. And they are all couched in the lyrical descriptive writing we have learned to expect from this author.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.