Annie On My Mind, by Nancy Garden
To finish up Banned Books Week, here’s a little bit about a great read that is challenged extremely often because of it features characters who are gay. In an age where less than 1% of young adult books have gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual characters, it is important to promote the ones that are out there.
In a time when it was considered extremely taboo, teenaged Liza finds herself falling in love with another girl, her vivacious new friend Annie. Told from Liza’s point of view, Annie On My Mind illustrates the development of their relationship, the confusion that Liza feels over her newly discovered sexuality, and the turmoil that comes as a result of being caught in the act of making love at a teacher’s house. Though this book was written over 20 years ago, I think that young adults would still find it relatable, and the material didn’t feel overly dated when I was reading it. Above all, the emotions ring true and give the book real authenticity.
It is an unfortunate truth that the vast majority of books with romantic plots deal with a guy and a girl, and it’s really a shame that aren’t more that embrace other kinds of people too. Homosexuality is a very touchy and controversial subject for a lot of people, for whatever reason, and young people may not always feel comfortable asking others about different sexualities and lifestyles. That is one of the many reasons that it is important to have books that show other kinds of people and other ways to love. We’re not all cookie cutter people, so why should the characters in books be? Annie On My Mind tells a very lovely and realistic story with good characters and a satisfying ending.
Maybe the story of Liza and Annie will help others who may find themselves confused or struggling and assure them that they, too, are normal and loved and things can work out positively no matter what your sexual orientation might be. Or, you know, maybe the story will just be an entertaining read for anyone. As a reader, I appreciate a well-told story with good characters, period. In Annie On My Mind, the two girls are fully realized characters who never fall into stereotypes. Their love is so charming and sweet that it was a delight to read.