Book info

Annie On My Mind (1992)

Annie on My Mind (1992)
Author
Rating
3.95 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0374404143 (ISBN13: 9780374404147)
languge
English
genre
publisher
farrar, straus and giroux (byr)
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Annie On My Mind (1992)
Annie On My Mind (1992)

About book: Okay, it’s about as cheesy a plot as can possibly exist, but I had to remind myself that this is a young adult romance written in the early eighties. I can’t help but experience the feeling that no matter how bad some of the writing is, you don’t go into another person’s house and make fun of her drapes. It reminds me a lot of the books I read when I was in junior high, like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. Like a silly hairstyle, the words in this book are representative of an era. This kind of stuff wouldn’t get published today, but that doesn’t mean it never should have been. I feel the need to get all of that out because of how harsh I was on the book in the very beginning (Are you there, Lord?). I was wrong. I admit it.This book has a message. A really good message. And I’m glad it exists. It gets me to wondering, though, where the hell was all of the YA queer lit when I was there? I read a lot about boys and girls getting all hot and heavy, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I started to experience this sort of writing. It seems crazy to me that I’ve read so much gay writing from people who grew up in more conservative times than I did, but my own generation hasn’t done anything of note. Am I just missing it? The book is still relevant today, but there needs to be an updated version; the social climate of the eighties is vastly different from what we’re presently living in. I want currency, dammit.The real value of this book, I think, is therapeutic. It shows the journey of discovery that these two girls go through, drawing particular focus on the love they share in spite of the troubles they face. Society doesn’t really accept them and they’re not particularly sure if they accept themselves, but they are able to support one another through the process. At one point, they even discover a book and detail how they use that book to deal with their situation. Not terribly subtle perhaps, but sometimes a brick does what a pebble cannot.Being however old I am, I have to admit that I felt a little voyeuristic reading this book about two teenaged girls’ fumblings in the dark. It wasn’t descriptive in any way, but it still had a bit of an ick factor. The problem, I think, was that I could see these people as real girls. Having finished it, I think that works in the book’s favor. This was written for teenagers, not their fathers. The feelings I encountered were very nicely paired with the reactions to the situation of nearly every other character in the story: I realized pretty quickly that what was happening between these girls was none of my goddamned business, and I continually wished that the nosy principal and the conservative classmates would recognize that, too.

It was like a war inside me; I couldn't even recognize all the sides. There was one that said, "No, this is wrong; you know it's wrong and bad and sinful," and there was another that said, "Nothing has ever felt so right and natural and true and good," and another that just wanted to stop thinking altogether and fling my arms around Annie and hold her forever. There were other sides, too, but I couldn't sort them out.Can we talk about how Annie On My Mind was published in 1982? 1982? Almost 20 years before Ellen came out on the Oprah Winfrey Show? 12 years before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was signed into law by the Clinton Administration? This book blows me away, mainly because it contains an honest exploration of emotions teens still face today - and it was published 13 years before I was born.The story focuses on Liza, a budding architect who aspires to attend MIT, and her growing relationship with Annie, an aspiring singer who wants to go to Berkeley. They meet at a museum and have a sword fight of sorts before partaking in other uncouth shenanigans - but beneath their antics lies the foundation of a meaningful, trusting friendship. However, their bond intensifies at a rapid pace, and they soon must figure out their feelings for one another before external factors their them apart.Nancy Garden's writing felt so honest in Annie On My Mind. Sure, a kid nowadays probably would have a smartphone to look up the definition of homosexuality and a laptop to find gay role models, but Liza's confusion and her budding relationship with Annie all came across as affecting and sincere. Liza's uncertainty about sex with Annie and her confusion about the expectations of those around her made me connect with her and her struggles throughout the story. Annie On My Mind shows how much worse it was for gay teens 30 years ago - without the out-and-proud celebrities and the eye-opening technology of today - but it also ends on a note of inspiration and hope. Garden did not render Liza and Annie into martyrs; she gave them dreams and desires, just like everyone else. By doing so, Garden made her characters people.Not a perfect book by any means - more like a 3.5. I wanted more development from Liza's family, from Garden's writing (which felt a little clunky at times), and from Liza and Annie's relationship as a whole. But, Annie On My Mind's significance as the first lgbtq novel transcends any possible rating, and even though Nancy Garden passed away last month, her impact on people within the lgbtq community will last forever.
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Reviews
Rebecca McNutt
I remember reading this book back in middle school (right before it was removed from the school library). What was unique about it was that it wasn't afraid to be honest, it was a book that dared to tell the truth: love is not a crime. Violence and hatred is.It's the story of two young girls who fall in love and this was in a century where being gay was seen as a disease and mental illness, so naturally people were ignorant as to the truth about it. The truth is, it's a story about friendship, love and understanding. It's a novel that was way ahead of its time when it first came out and though it's rather dated now, it's still worth reading.
Mike
I've been into LGBT fiction for a while. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, it's practically the only contemporary I can stand. And obviously, this is an important book in the genre, it being the first. This is the book that got publicly burnt in Kansas City and banned from more schools than you could imagine for having a lesbian couple in it. So naturally, I had to read it - if it's banned, it's for me. And I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. Sure, it's dated, but I'm sort of thankful - I don't want this to be the social environment of the day. And the fact that it's dated doesn't get in the way of its quality.A lot of people complained about the writing, but I'm not really sure why, after having read it. It was awkward on occasion, but for the most part, it reminded me of something out of Julie Anne Peters or Ellen Wittlinger - not particularly special, but still engaging. (I suspect the resemblance is no coincidence, considering that both write LGBT fiction.)But the real strength of the book was the characters. Both Annie and Liza were well-rendered, and they acted like real people. I really liked Liza as a narrator, in particular. It got to the point where I got genuinely worried for them when bad things started happening to them, simply because I cared about their romance so much.The romance between the two is another very well done part of the book. It was slow-burning - too slow-burning perhaps, since they didn't do anything further than normal friendship until almost halfway through. But it was believable and interesting, and even when you thought they were being stupid together, you could see why they did it. (This is a nice contrast from... say... Luna, where the characters seem to be morons for no reason.)Unfortunately, this book is hampered down by chronic lack of plot. It's not until two thirds of the way in where anything interesting or really, anything at all happens. There's a subplot about Liza's presidency of the student council that is completely interesting and goes no where, and there's little plotting other than that for most of the book. It's too bad, because once the plot really starts, it's actually quite interesting. If Garden had tightened the pacing, it could've been really entertaining. But sadly, like most contemporary works, Garden shows that she can write well and develop good characters, but she can't write a plot to back them up.Nevertheless, this is definitely a worthwhile book, and a must-read for any fans of LGBT fiction. And what with it being so important, I can't urge you enough to at least try it, if for no other reason, then the historical context.
Amy
This book is a love story about a teen who finds her soul mate and finds out she is gay at the same time. It deals not only her internal struggle with this realization, but the sometimes misguided effort of those around her to deal with it. It seems very cutting edge for it's time. Written in the early 1980s, it is a pretty realistic account of how the world reacted to gays at the time without losing the love story and focusing too much on gay discrimination.I think this book would appeal to teens because it is mostly a beautifully written love story about two teens in love for the first time. Teens will definitely relate to that part of it. What they may have trouble relating to is the gay discrimination being so intense. Being called in front of an inquisition at school for having sex (whether homosexual or heterosexual) is pretty far fetched today. They did do a good job of setting the stage for this by referring to a heterosexual couple who were expelled from the school because of a pregnancy. The teachers being fired because they live together and have books about lesbianism does not seem very realistic for today, but was pretty realistic when the book was written in the early 1980s.The Developmental markers that were addressed are Parent Involvement in Schooling and Achievement Motivation. Her parents do not do a perfect job of accepting and embracing her lesbianism, but they do stand behind her against the school and fight for her school record to remain clean. They still incourage her to go to college and do well in school.I found the characters very believable because at the end of the day this was a love story. It focused more on the emotion than sexual orientation and I found that very convincing because emotion is what love is all about, especially for a teen. It also showed how people were trying to be nice and help, but weren't and I think teens go through that a lot. I would promote this book to teens as a well written love story that would appeal to teens who like romance. I think it is a mistake to focus too much on differences and would choose to focus on the common emotions that teens go through with their first romance, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. This book could also be promoted as an interesting look at predudice and how they change over time. Not only of homosexuals, but also of the heterosexual pregnancy. The view of acceptable sexual conduct at different times in history would appeal to some teens, even if it is just because the topic of sex in general appeals to teens.VOYA codes: 5Q, 4P, S
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