Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Publisher: Open Road Media Teen & Tween (September 5th 2017) – originally in 1982
Genre: YA; contemporary, romance
Rating: 4/5 🍑
A landmark in LGBT fiction, this captivating story of two teenage girls who fall in love is a “classic of the genre” (Publishers Weekly).
When Liza Winthrop first lays eyes on Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there’s something special between them. Soon, their close friendship develops into a deep and intimate romance. Neither imagined that falling in love could be so wonderful, but as Liza and Annie’s newfound sexuality sparks conflict in both their families and at their schools, they discover it will take more than love for their relationship to succeed.
One of the first books to positively portray a lesbian relationship, Annie on My Mind is a groundbreaking classic of the genre. The subject of a First Amendment lawsuit over banned books and one of School Library Journal’s “One Hundred Books that Shaped the Century,” Nancy Garden’s iconic novel is an important story for anyone discovering who they’re meant to be.
I received a galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Speaking as a lesbian, I can’t even begin to properly explain to you why this book is so important to me. My only wish is that I read it at 15 instead of 25 & I really, really hope there have been a bunch of kids who did just that! I’m sure there must have been though given it’s 35 years (!!!) since Annie on My Mind was first published.
And I think that’s one of the greatest things about this book. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to read something this wholesome and this soft back then. It’s still lowkey revolutionary now! Lines like “nothing has ever felt so right and natural and true and good” about two girls kissing? I don’t think I’m gonna be over it anytime soon.
It’s amazing to not only see yourself represented by very real, multi-dimensional characters, but also – being told time & time again that there’s nothing wrong with the way you are, with the people you love. It’s not often that someone defends us so fiercely in books and it really feels like a very much needed warm hug at the end of a hard day.
You can tell while reading that the book isn’t new. The writing isn’t like what we’re used to nowadays, no one has a cellphone, the school problems seem a little bit ridiculous. But none of that really matters. Because the writing is still great & hits right in the heart, like it was meant to do all those years ago. And teen sapphic girls can still see themselves in the characters and can still take courage in the characters’ journey to self-love & acceptance. There’s period-appropriate homophobia here, of course, and it’s still appropriate today, unfortunately, and it made my stomach turn more than once. But it’s presented as just an obstacle that’s possible to overcome, as something we can crush with our love, not as something we need to accept.
Because like the dedication says, it’s a book for all of us. For teenage sapphic girls who need guidance, who need someone they can trust, someone to tell them loving other girls is Wonderful, who need some hope in their lives. And the beauty of Annie on My Mind is, it provides all of that & more.