Saturday, February 5, 2011

Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden

Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1982. 233 pp. ISBN 0374303665

Who knew that true love could be so wonderful?  Who knew that others would be so bothered by Liza and Annie's relationship?

Realistic fiction

Seventeen-year-olds Liza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon meet by chance at New York's Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, where Liza is working on an assignment and Annie is browsing. They are immediately drawn to each other, and their friendship begins to grow quickly. Liza loves architecture, lives in an affluent neighborhood and attends an elite private school where she is the student body president.  Annie is a gifted singer and attends a public high school complete with police on site and lives in a poor/working class neighborhood.  As their relationship deepens, and the girls realize that their attraction is romantic, they proceed with some hesitation at first.  It is mainly Liza who is initally unsure, and needs time to discover herself, before the two develop a full-fledged relationship.  A house-sitting job that they take on results in them being forced to confront family, friends' and school reaction to their relationship.  The ultimate question is how their reaction to this confrontation will affect their relationship.  

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this novel is the reflective nature of Liza, which we see in her relationship with Annie, but also in her school life.  She is not one to take decisions lightly, especially about her personal life.  This allows the reader time to think through their feelings about the novel's theme along with her.  I also think this novel is very true-to-life in its depiction of the emotions of any love affair, especially between young people.  Liza and Annie's interaction and hestitations are very believable.   This book also has a power beyond the theme of sexual orientation, and that is to encourage all teens to be true to themselves in general, and prepares them for the fact that there are some who will try to set up roadblocks to their free self-expression. Hopefully this novel will give them that courage to persevere.  Some may find this book's focus on a lesbian relationship controversial.  However, I feel that these are the people who most need to read this book, as it so realistically depicts the experience of true and young love, helping heterosexual readers to understand that lesbian/gay relationships are no different from straight relationships apart from the gender of the partners.

This novel will help teens who are questioning their sexual orientation, or are struggling with coming out to their peers, family, and society. 

I have always wanted to read this classic of teen literature.

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