Garden, Nancy. Annie on my Mind. Canada: Collins Publishers 1982.
Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age
Audience: 7-12th grade would be appropriate
Summary: Liza is a senior in high school who loves architecture and dreams of going to MIT. Annie is an aspiring artist with a lovely voice that can melt a room. These two girls meet in a museum that Liza attends so that she may work on her senior project. Annie happens to be there singing a song. Liza hears and approaches Annie. Annie spins around to find Liza’s eyes straight on her. The two become friends immediately as they act out scenes from a knight tale in the museum. The book takes us on a journey of friendship, love, and sexuality. Liza becomes best friends with Annie but starts to realize that she likes her more than a friend should like a friend…especially a female friend. Liza starts to fall in love with Annie. She battles her parents, school, and her friends because of this “forbidden love.” She tears herself away from Annie, so the book begins with Liza writing a letter to Annie that she cannot send to her. We realize that the book takes us back in Liza’s past to tell us this story so that we may understand how she came to be alone. She is alone because she chose to be. Being homosexual wasn’t okay for her to deal with. At the end, however, we see that Liza breaks away from her chains of childhood and becomes an adult by breaking free and accepting herself for who she is and loving who she has always loved; Annie.
Themes: Friendship is a very important theme in this novel because Liza becomes friends with Annie which had a monumental effect on her life as she knew it. Her friendship with Annie changes her entire life. They start off as friends and then l=move towards the healthy love one shares for a friend. But the friendship moves past the “friend zone” when Liza and Annie kiss for the first time. This takes them into thinking about their friendship from a whole new perspective; as lovers.
Love: Love is a huge theme through out the book. Liza and Annie not only love each other as friends, they love each other as lovers as well. The love they share is very strong especially for Liza. We see the struggles Liza goes through while confronting her parents, teachers, and friends about her love for another woman. She doesn’t understand why nobody can see that two people-two women-can love each other just as much as a man and woman can. She backs away from love and ends up not writing Annie back while they are away from each other. She couldn’t handle the emotion. But fortunately she begins to see that her love for Annie is much stronger than her love for her “good girl image” she has with her parents and peers. She calls Annie, tells her she wants to see her, then tells her she loves her.
Sexuality: Sexuality plays a big role in Annie on my Mind because Liza has to deal with her own sexuality and identity issues regarding her sexuality. It is a struggle for Liza more than we see it with Annie. Perhaps this is because the point of view of the book comes from Liza’s perception. Liza doesn’t know that she is homosexual and has never really thought about it until Annie. Once she started realizing her feelings for Annie, Liza put the pieces of the puzzle together and started to figure out who she really was, not who everyone else thought she was.
Connections: Well, it’s hard to personally identify with Liza’s struggles seeing as I’m heterosexual and all, but I do understand the importance of friendship. It was very hard for me to make friends in high school. I would throw myself into tons of extra-curricular activities just to take up time and to be around people. It was incredibly sad and hard for me. Liza seems to have been separated from her peers just as I was from mine. The difference is, she made one her senior year and I did not. She was lucky enough to find a girl she could befriend and spend time with. To me, I don’t care that they ended up being homosexual. Friendship came first. Liza was fell in love with her best friend, just as we all do.
Reactions: I quite enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and I like the idea of tackling homosexuality like Nancy Garden did. She showed homosexuality for the love it entails, not focusing on the sexual part of it. I liked the characters and how well they were developed. I was left with no questions, of which I am very happy. There are so many issues that teens deal with in school that I feel like sexuality gets pushed over a lot. I remember kids in my school dealing with identity issues and having struggles with being bisexual or homosexual, especially in high school where it was considered a very taboo subject.
Reception:This reader talks about how she wishes she read this book sooner so that it could help her deal with her own sexuality issues
This reader talks about how Liza and Annie have very little personality and that any girl can place herself in either of their shoes