It is quite timely that I would be finishing this book today, one month after a major event in my life — but also on the last day (as far as I know, and as far as I hope) of my physical therapy. I think this is what’s called happenstance, because it’s coincidental, but I also just find the sentiment of it all pleasant.
Annie on My Mind was a joyous read, taking me on a journey of two young adults falling in love with each other. I understand now why it’s such a highly recommended LGBTQ+ classic novel: despite being set in 20th century America, the characters and story are timeless on their own. No specific dates are mentioned, and none are needed to ensure the story makes sense. You can kind of guess it on your own, if it’s really important to you.
When I started this book, I didn’t know Nancy Garden was a gay woman; it’s only when I was determining how many pages I had left in order to gauge how soon I could potentially finish the book that I found the author interview in the back and skimmed the part that said so. So! It’s exciting, accidentally having come across a gay author with a classic novel.
I had struggled to find LGBTQ+ classic books when making my Classics Club TBR, because the last thing I had interest in reading — and still have little interest in reading — were books about heterosexual couples or heteronormativity or general heterosexuality, because it all just bores me these days. The stories are the same, at the end of the day, but then the stories about gay women lean more diverse because you have stories containing some kind of stigma.
It’s not that I enjoy, or even prefer, the drama stigma creates; it’s just that you can take a man and a woman whose families don’t want them together just because one is wealthy, but you can’t easily tell the same story about two men or two women and claim their families don’t want them together for the same reason without first addressing their sexuality.
In stories about heterosexual people, sexuality is not the elephant in the room because heterosexuality is perceived as the “normal”; it’s “just the way it is”. Representation is everywhere, mostly, at least for straight white people.
Annie on My Mind focuses on the stigma surrounding homosexuality, both how it affects your personal, intimate relationships and how it affects people who otherwise should not be directly affected by it (e.g. family).
There’s not enough romance/drama, depending on which one you want.
I expected Annie on My Mind to contain more romance, but it doesn’t.
The more I read, the more I realized it’d contain more drama.
So if you’re looking for more of one, it’s going to have the other.
That doesn’t make it a bad book or mean it’s insufficient in either department; it’s just more realistic and less smutty — a cozy read, for wet winters or rainy days, when you want to hole up in your house with some hot cocoa or tea, and spent your day off with a book.
Regardless, I did enjoy it. It was not a difficult read so much that I had to look up every other word like I did when trying to start with Brave New World, so it meant I also didn’t exhaust myself more easily the more I tried to understand diction and themes my brain could not yet fathom at that point.
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on 20 February, 2007
Genres: Classics, Fiction, Lesbian fiction, LGBTQ+, Romance
# pages: 263
Source: Book Depository
Liza, private school student and council president, meets and falls in love with public schoolgirl, Annie.
"If you don't put that ring on this minute, I'm going to take it back," Annie whispered in my ear. She leaned back, looking at me, her hands still on my shoulders, her eyes shining softly at me and snow falling, melting, on her nose. "Buon Natale," she whispered, "amore mio."
"Merry Christmas, my love," I answered.
From the moment Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there is something special between them. But Liza never knew falling in love could be so wonderful... or so confusing.