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Five wildly inventive new takes on classic literature

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From Anne to Ana
From Anne to Ana: The classic fish out of water story gets a 21st century update.
Courtesy of publishers

What once was old is new again. 

These authors have pulled their favorite plots from the classics section and remade them with diverse and inventive new voices.

5 modern retellings with a twist

1) "Ana of California" by Andi Teran, based on "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery

In the beloved "Green Gables," an orphan named Anne is sent to live on a farm on Prince Edward Island — but she's not what her new family is expecting. Swap the Canadian province for Northern California and you've got Teran's new take on the classic.

Fifteen-year-old Ana leaves foster homes and East Los Angeles behind for a farm trainee program in this modern retelling. Just when she starts to feel comfortable, trouble in town threatens her newfound sense of home.

"Anne of Green Gables fans will rejoice; newcomers will find a satisfying tale; and Ana's high jinx will leave both types of readers smiling and asking for more."
 -Kirkus Reviews

2) "Lost Boi" by Sassafras Lowrey, based on "Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie

The lost boys turned lost bois
Barrie's original narrative about runaway boys inspired Lowrey's story of queer youth.
Courtesy of publishers

J.M. Barrie's children's tale gets a dark and wondrous makeover in "Lost Boi," a queer punk reimagining of "Peter Pan." Lowrey's bois are abandoned, orphaned and rejected; they make their home in a discarded squat they've dubbed Neverland.

Wendy's there too, as Mommy Wendi, and old enemies remain: The bois refuse to join Hook and his leather pirates.

"Lowrey takes a familiar fairy tale and injects the heartbreaking reality of so many abandoned and lost gay youth, seeking belonging, purpose, and something that passes for family."
-Book Riot

3) "Re Jane" by Patricia Park, based on "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte

Jane, meet Jane
Jane, meet Jane: Both women struggle to find their own identity, a century apart.
Courtesy of publishers

Forget the stark and sweeping landscapes of Bronte's "Jane Eyre." Swap in the refurbished warehouses and brownstones of modern Brooklyn that come alive in Patricia Park's "Re Jane." Jane Re is a young Korean-American girl who takes an au pair job for a wealthy, progressive couple.

The classic plot takes off from there, but Park injects a fresh perspective and new twists to keep even the most diehard Bronte fan guessing.

"Park's debut is a cheeky, clever homage to Jane Eyre with touching meditations on Korean-American identity. ... Park's clever one-liners, and her riffs on cultural identity will resonate with any reader who's ever felt out of place."
-Publishers Weekly

On June 25, Park will join us for The Thread Book Club. Read "Re Jane" along with us and send us your questions — we'll ask them in the studio.

4) "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski, based on "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

To be or not to be?
Would Hamlet have liked it in Wisconsin?
Courtesy of publishers

It's Shakespeare — just in Wisconsin, with dogs. Wroblewski transplants "Hamlet" to the modern American countryside.

In the titular role is Edgar, a young mute boy who comes from a long line of dog breeders. When his father is killed, Edgar flees into the surrounding wilderness, hoping to return with proof of his uncle's guilt.

Wroblewski has a fan in Oprah: She picked "Edgar Sawtelle" for her book club in 2008.

5) "Railsea" by China Mieville, based on "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville

The great white whale becomes the great white mole
The great white whale becomes the great white molerat. Still scary.
Courtesy of publishers

Think "Moby-Dick," but on dry land.

Mieville (not to be confused with Melville, from whom he takes his inspiration) moves the action onto rails. Railsea is a post-apocalyptic world of islands connected by trains and terrorized not by vengeful whales but by similarly pale, hulking creatures: enormous mole rats.

Mieville draws on the stories of Robert Louis Stevenson as well, adding plenty of adventure to his epic retelling.

"[Mieville] gives all readers a lot to dig into here, be it emotional drama, Godzilla-esque monster carnage, or the high adventure that comes only with riding the rails." 
-USA Today