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Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
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Annie on My Mind (1982)

by Nancy Garden

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Nancy Garden, the author of Annie on my Mind died recently and to honor her memory I had to go back and re-read her amazing book. Why is it amazing? Because it's a story of two high school girls who fall in love -- romantic, physical and sexual love -- and its not smarmy or sensational, or shocked or silly about it.

The shocking thing is that this warm wise, down to earth book was banned and burned and forbidden to people who would have enjoyed reading it and might have even taken some comfort from it.

Two teenagers fall in love. Happens all the time. Written in the 1980's and so perhaps a little - careful - about telling the tale. But real and true and solid all the same.

Gets inside the mind of a teen age girl discovering what love is and what growing up is and what right is and what wrong is.

Not great writing but a great story. It will stick in your mind. It sticks in mine. I'm smiling now as I type this. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Oct 9, 2014 |
this isn't a spectacular story and it isn't gorgeous prose, but this is solid, and i very much enjoyed reading it. i think there's a lot to relate to in this story about two girls who discover love together. they could just as easily been different races a couple of decades earlier, or the focus could have been more on their class differences, or they could have been two boys, or of different religions in a more devout area/time, etc. it's a story about discovering something about yourself and deciding what to do about it. well, as garden says in the interview at the end of this edition, ultimately it's about love, this story, and i feel like she captures young love so accurately. ("young" as in early stages, not "young" as in high school, although that is where this takes place.)

really, the only thing that didn't seem believable to me was how much time they were allowed to spend together. being suspended from school and not being grounded, but instead being allowed to hang out with your best friend? not in my young adult life.

this was written in the early 80's and it seemed to take place a little before that, and looking at it as a story from that time, it feels like an accurate representation. (except for the never being grounded thing.)

i really, really enjoyed a few of the characters in this book (in particular annie, ms stevenson and ms widmer, chad), which made it even more nice to read. and maybe the best part of this book, especially because it's a young adult novel, is that garden doesn't dance around any of the issues. she tells the story she wants to tell, and in so doing she addresses head on the issues that these girls (and the teachers) face. they have an intense friendship, they fall in love and they question their sexuality, their relationship is about spending time together but not just that - she's realistic about sex, and coming out (or not) and what that means (in the time it takes place) are all at least touched on if not more fully addressed. being up front about these things, i think, makes me, as a reader, feel the book has an honesty that i appreciate.

"Annie pulled her collar up around her throat and I wanted to touch her skin where the collar met it. It was as if I'd always wanted to touch her there but hadn't known it."

"I went downstairs to Dad's encyclopedia and looked up HOMOSEXUALITY, but that didn't tell me much about any of the things I felt. What struck me most, though, was that, in that whole long article, the word "love" wasn't used even once. That made me mad; it was as if whoever wrote the article didn't know that gay people actually love each other." ( )
1 vote elisa.saphier | Sep 26, 2014 |
Of all of her works, Garden is best well known for her YA love story, Annie on My Mind, “The first teen novel with both a young lesbian (or gay) protagonist and a definitely happy ending,” (Annie 252).

The experiences of the characters in today's books about queer adolescents differ dramatically from those in Annie on my Mind (originally published 1982) where the only book to be found at home to speak to the character’s experience was the (woefully inadequate) dictionary! Modern readers may need to take time to understand how the world has changed in the decades since this book came out. The changes in culture that took place since 1982 can be seen not only through literature, but in our laws: sodomy laws were struck down by the US Supreme Court, challenges were made to queer members of the US military, and the right of same-sex couples to marry became recognized in a number of countries worldwide and some US states.

While the stories of lesbians are no longer so secret and invisible, there are still many teens who have experiences similar to Annie and Liza. Despite its age, the story may resonate with anyone who's had a relationship that was challenged by friends and school mates, and forbidden by parents. What’s so outrageous about love and finding one’s place in the world?

First published in 1982, Annie has celebrated more than 25 years in print, an attribute that becomes more rare as the publishing market struggles with slim profit margins. Translated into Chinese, Slovenian, Italian, and Korean, it has been included on several Best lists and won several awards for its quality writing and its subject matter. As controversial as the subject of LGBTQ youth is today, books with queer characters were even more rare in 1982, when Annie was published. Rarer still at the time were books with lesbian characters that had a happy ending. As a teen, when Garden turned to literature to explore the lives and experiences of people that reflected her own attraction to a female classmate, found the material lacking. Reading about gay and lesbian characters who were (exclusively) closeted, institutionalized, turned straight, or who died due to accidents, violence, or suicide, Garden vowed she would “someday write a book about my people with a happy ending,” (Annie 242-243). Garden explained to Kathleen Horning in an interview that the inspiration for the novel came from her “desire to tell the truth about gay people—that we’re not sick or evil; that we can and do fall in love and lead happy, healthy, productive lives (Annie 247).

The greatest challenge to the book came more than a decade after Annie was published. In 1993, after copies were donated to a number of schools in the Kansas City area, the Olathe, Kansas school board decided to remove it from the shelves for its lesbian content. The controversy, which lasted for years, culminated in the book being burned on the steps of the Kansas City School Board building. In response, Garden told interviewer Christine Jenkins, “I kept thinking on the way: Burned! I didn't think people burned books any more. Only Nazis burn books.” With the ACLU, several area families and a teacher sued the school district . . . and won . The federal district court, in Case v. Unified School District No. 233, found that the school had violated the students’s rights under the First Amendment, the Kansas State Constitution, and the school board’s own policies.
( )
  MCHBurke | Jul 7, 2014 |
Surprisingly contemporary for an early 80s novel, especially a YA novel about homosexuality. I wish I could say some I the moralizing and preening in the name of religion some of the antagonists do is anachronistic, but these days it's actually a political platform. Nevertheless, this novel also does a great job of foregrounding many of the challenges adolescents face gaining autonomy over their own bodies (not just sexually). Very well written (save the lack of clarity as to why the girls lose touch)--HIGHLY recommended. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
From Back Cover: A few months into her freshman year at MIT, Liza Withrop relives in reflective retrospect the past year, when she met and fell in love with Annie Kenyon ... A tender, bittersweet love story." [ALA Booklist].
  rschwed | Oct 5, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374400113, Paperback)

This groundbreaking book, first published in 1982, 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.
 
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. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves."
 
The 25th Anniversary Edition features a full-length interview with the author by Kathleen T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Ms. Garden answers such revealing questions as how she knew she was gay, why she wrote the book, censorship, and the book's impact on readers - then and now.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:05 -0400)

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Liza tries to put aside her feelings for Annie after the disaster at Foster Academy, but eventually she allows love to triumph over the ignorance of others.

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