Book Reviews

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden: Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Published September 5th, 2017 (first July 1st, 1982) by Open Road Media Teen & Tween.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

From the moment Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there is something special between them. But Liza never knew falling in love could be so wonderful . . . or so confusing.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending.”

“No single work has done more for young adult LGBT fiction than this classic about two teenage girls who fall in love.” -School Library Journal

“What does helping someone really mean? Helping them to be like everyone else, or helping them to be themselves?”

I felt as though I had to review at least one LGBTQ book during June, what with it being Pride Month. I honestly don’t think I could have picked up a better novel to read this month than Annie on My Mind, and I’m so glad I get to share my thoughts about it with you.

I’m honestly ashamed it took me this long to read Annie on My Mind. I’m a queer woman and my name is Liza(!!!). But even though it took me so long to find this book, while reading it I felt as though it was written specifically for me.

And, in a lot of ways it was.

I don’t mean that in a conceited way, I swear.

But this book was written for me, and all the people out there just like me. LGBTQ youth growing up, trying to make their way in the world, trying to be confident with who they are. That is who this book is for.

Annie on My Mind, written in 1982, is recognized as being the first YA novel that involved a lesbian relationship that did not only not condemn the behaviour, but in fact showed it in a positive light, ending with them winding up together.

The love story between Liza and Annie is natural, believable, and incredibly sweet in a young love kind of way. It starts off as the ideal, the fairy-tale meet-cute turned epic love. But it’s done in a way that feels completely normal; plucked from reality rather than fantasy. Liza and Annie are just two girls who randomly meet and later fall in love. In the most natural sort of way.

“I stood in the kitchen leaning against the counter watching Annie feed the cats, and I knew I wanted to do that forever. Our kitchen. Our cats.”

Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse as the story progresses, and both girls must face severe backlash for their relationship.

The homophobia faced in this story is visceral. I felt equal parts angry and heartbroken by what these girls must endure at the hands of their peers and authority figures. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because the pay-off at the very end is made all the more sweeter by the hardships faced.

“It’s Annie and me. And what we did that they think is wrong, when you pare it all down, was fall in love.”

Though the harsh realities of being openly gay during the 1980s in America (and arguably today still) are discussed, Garden manages to combat this with a positive, uplifting ending, showing that learning to be true to yourself is ultimately worth the pain.

Please do yourself the favour. Your younger self, the one that longed to be understood and to feel loved the way you always desired. Do that you a favour, and read this beautifully bittersweet, thoughtful, incredible book.

“The thing about mountains is that you have to keep on climbing them, and that it’s always hard, but there’s a view from top every time when you finally get there.”

What are your favourite LGBTQ novels?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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