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Annie John (1985)

by Jamaica Kincaid

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2292710,961 (3.57)87
Annie John is a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Kincaid's novel focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood. Annie's voice-urgent, demanding to be heard-is one that will not soon be forgotten by readers. An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence, who is the very center of the little girl's existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother's benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, "It was in such a paradise that I lived." When she turns twelve, however, Annie's life changes, in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority; and most frighteningly, her mother, seeing Annie as a "young lady," ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary. At the end of her school years, Annie decides to leave Antigua and her family, but not without a measure of sorrow, especially for the mother she once knew and never ceases to mourn. "For I could not be sure," she reflects, "whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world."… (more)
  1. 10
    Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (betterthanchocolate)
    betterthanchocolate: If you liked Annie John's (acerbic) post-colonial resistance, you might also appreciate Nyasha's.
  2. 10
    Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge (betterthanchocolate)
    betterthanchocolate: An island girlhood.
  3. 10
    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anonymous user)
  4. 00
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Kincaid and Hurston have each set their moving, character-driven novels in atmospheric, sunny settings -- the Caribbean, and Florida respectively. Both novels explore haunting truths about identity, society, friendship and love as an African-American female protagonist gains new self-awareness and respect for her experiences.… (more)
  5. 00
    The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (bookworm12)
  6. 00
    The Meaning of Consuelo: A Novel (Bluestreak) by Judith Ortiz Cofer (bookworm12)
  7. 00
    The Painted Canoe (Anthony C. Winkler Collection) by Anthony C. Winkler (betterthanchocolate)
    betterthanchocolate: Appealing reads in Caribbean fiction.

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» See also 87 mentions

English (26)  Swedish (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
bleh bluh blah blah. this was barely worth a skim. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
A slender, beautifully written, sense-tingling and heart-tugging portrait of a girl whose idyllic childhood transforms into an adolescence of pain and alienation as her relationship to her mother inexplicably alters. Very readable, very sad. ( )
  thesmellofbooks | Dec 6, 2017 |
'I don't see them now the way I used to, and I don't love them now the way I used to',
By sally tarbox on 19 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
Enjoyable book, narrated by Annie John, a young girl growing up in a relatively comfortable home in Antigua. In the first chapters, she is in a close and adoring relationship with her mother:
'I just liked to look at her mouth as it opened and closed over words, or as she laughed. How terrible it must be for all the people who had no one to love them so and no one whom they loved so, I thought.'
But as she reaches adolescence, we see her breaking away; no longer the lovely biddable daughter, Annie's thoughts centre on unsuitable friends, lying and stealing, and her feelings for her mother are more akin to hatred:
'My mother turned to face me. We looked at each other, and I could see the frightening black thing leave her to meet the frightening black thing that had left me. They met in the middle and embraced.'
Evocative; brings back memories of my teens! ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
Written in 1985, it tells the story of a coming of age for Annie John, only child of her mother and father. This story captures the closeness of daughter and mother in childhood and the distancing that occurs during adolescence. I never thought of it as a process that parents also go through but in this story, the author captures the changes in the mother as her daughter becomes a young lady. It captures the painfulness of that passage for Annie who morns the loss of that earlier relationship which she never quite fines a way to replace. In addition, this book captures in words a bout of depression, especially the color of depression. There is a theme of death in the book but no one dies except childhood and the mother daughter relationship.

Some quotes: "My unhappiness was something inside me, and when I closed my eyes I could even see it. It sat somewhere --maybe in my belly, maybe in my heart; I could not exactly tell--and it took the shape of a small black ball, all wrapped up in cobwebs."


"For I could not be sure whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world. I highlighted this last part because of having just read Between the World and Me. ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 7, 2016 |
I didn't really know what to expect with Annie John. What I got was a genuine and poetic portrait of childhood and adolescence. By the end of it I could see myself as Annie, and all I could do was hug the book to my chest and let out a sigh.
This is a nice quick, lyrical read, something that could be enjoyed at the window, or on a porch, even a long train ride to another city. ( )
  PaperbackPropensity | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
"Annie John is a narrowly focused and intense portrayal of the inner life of an adolescent girl growing up in Antigua in the 1950s and 1960s. It begins in paradise. Annie is 10 years old. She lives an orderly and affection-filled existence with her mother and father in a small house he has built, which her mother keeps perfectly in order. Annie adores her mother and loves being in her presence, helping her with her daily tasks, dressing like her, being made to feel cherished and protected by her mother's knowledge and special rigour. The next nine chapters detail Annie's simultaneous disillusionment and quest for independence as she becomes "a young lady" (a very suspect category), a star student in a rigidly British educational system, and her mother's loved and hated antagonist."
added by Dhud707 | editThe Guardian, Jane Smiley (Jul 1, 2006)

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For Allen, with love
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For a short while during the year I was ten, I thought only people I did not know died.
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Average: (3.57)
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3 57
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