Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
First Published: 1982
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Coming of Age, LGBT, High School, First Love, Controversy
This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. The book has been banned from many school libraries and publicly burned in Kansas City.
This romantic relationship is so… organic.
Liza and Annie fall in love with each other gradually and for the right reasons. Neither expected to feel so deeply for the other person, but they cannot deny their feelings for one another without breaking their own heart in the process, even if they both know people in their lives disapprove of them or would disapprove if they knew they were more than friends.
They know society is against them, but still they decide to see where their feelings lead them. And they do so very organically; everything happens so naturally I completely believed Liza and Annie were meant to be together and was ready to defend them until I had no more voice.
It is told from Liza’s point of view only, meaning that we do not have direct access to Annie’s thoughts, but that didn’t keep me from understanding and getting to know her almost as well as the main character herself. Because Liza is thoroughly authentic and relatable—a real teenager who questions her sexual identity—her thoughts were meaningful and easy to follow.
This book was published thirty-six years ago, and yet, I would have believed you if you’d told me it hit the shelves yesterday.
Because there are still too many LGBTQ+ people who do not feel safe bringing their relationship with their significant other into the open, and thus being their true selves. Though I’m of the opinion that we as a society are going in the right direction with regards to these issues, there is still work to be done.
A heartfelt, slow exploration of love and heartbreak, as well as a beautiful coming of age story that could have used more developed secondary characters, but that was satisfying nonetheless. Most important of all, it is a positive outlook on same-sex relationships, empowering LGBTQ+ people to trust themselves and not let anyone else dictate who they shall love.
I hope to one day be able to say that this book is outdated; that it is in no way realistic; that gay people do not face the same problems anymore. But as of today, it is certainly not.
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