Annie on My Mind, a young adult novel by Nancy Garden, published in 1982, tells the story of a romance between high-school seniors Eliza (Liza) Winthrop, student council president at an educationally-high-quality but rather uptight private school, and Annie Kenyon, start music student of a tough inner-city school who is determined to avoid being a part of the school’s largely delinquent culture.
We meet Liza as a college freshman, as she decides that she must mentally re-hash her romance with Annie (hence the title, or so I assume), to finally come to terms with what happened and with being most likely (gay). Liza’s memories serve as a framing device, so we see the girls’ whimsical first meeting (when Annie gets Liza’s attention with her public singing and playfulness); their quick attachment to each other and growing bond (as they entertain themselves and each other by visiting New York City’s parks and cultural institutions); their realization that they have something beyond a “normal” friendship; and the development – not without awkwardness – of a physical relationship, culminating in a humiliating “outing” and, for Liza, the threat of disgrace and possible expulsion from school. (The immediate, concrete consequences for Annie are not made as clear).
Garden, who passed away during the summer of 2014, was herself a lesbian in a 45-year relationship, and has stated that she wrote the book because, growing up, there were too few books where lesbians were not killed off or “cured.” This book is remembered as one of the first to treat a lesbian relationship as normal love to be celebrated, and probably THE first in the YA genre.
Books have a way of seeping into me until I’m almost living with the characters’ issues. This has been called the “emotional sieve” effect by other Aspies, but I like to call myself an “emotional chameleon.” And this book produces that effect more so than most. So much so that I am devoting a page to questions and observations for discussion – which I plan to keep adding to – in addition to links to some of the (few) places on the Internet featuring Garden and/or this book. You can find the Annie page linked to my page of book and show links.