Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Annie on my Mind

Liza never knew that falling in love could be so wonderful . . . and so confusing.

"'Liza,' Mom said, looking into my eyes, 'I want you to tell me the truth, not because I want to pry, but because I have to know. This could get very unpleasant . . . Now--have you and Annie--done any more than the usual experimenting . . . '

'No, Mom,' I said, trying to look back at her calmly. I'm not proud of it, I make no excuses--I lied to her."

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. This book is so truthful and honest, it has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden is the third lesbian book written for teens. But it stands out as the first lesbian book for teens in which the characters are punished for being who they are. That's not to say that the girls don't have their fair share of troubles. They do. But compared to the books before and some since, it's a relatively happy story.

I knew going in to this one that it would be dated. It was published in 1982, the year I was born. It was definitely interesting reading it and thinking back to how the world was so different back then. While we have a long way to go, we've come a long way as well. But I was pleasantly surprised. It didn't seem as dated as I feared it would. Many of the issues are still relevant, more so in certain areas. Where I come from, tolerance isn't as much of a problem as it is in more conservative areas.
In addition to Annie on my Mind being a lovely read, telling the story of two teen girls who have fallen in love, I feel like it's an important book. It's a pioneer in the world of lesbian fiction. Particularly YA lesbian fiction. There are so many books being published in recent years with main characters who are gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered... I've read several books by Julie Anne Peters, Malinda Lo, and Sarah Diemer that I've really enjoyed. And Nancy Garden paved the way for these authors to share their wonderful books.

I strongly urge everyone to read this book. It was one of my favorite books read in 2012. And be sure to get the anniversary edition, which includes a Q&A with lesbian author, Nancy Garden.


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