About the Book

Title: Annie on My Mind
Published: 1982
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: WYSIWIG
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit
Bonus Factors: Lesbians, Kickass Gram
Relationship Status: I’ll Stand By You

Cover Story: WYSIWIG

So, this book is about two girls in love, and if you thought it was about anything else, you’re maaaaaybe not very observant.

The Deal

Liza and Annie meet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They live in different neighborhoods and go to different schools — Annie, a public school, and Liza, the financially troubled private school, Foster Academy, where she’s the student council president. Mrs. Poindexter, the headmistress of the school, is an overbearing, meddling battleaxe of a woman who should have been forced by the trustees into retirement around the time women started wearing pants. From the moment old Poindexter and her bible-beating minion Ms. Baxter start their anti-Liza campaign over another student’s disastrous ear-piercing studio in the school basement (Liza, as stuco president, should have shown better judgement, yanno) you can bet your rainbow flag Liza and Annie’s fledgling relationship is not going to be safe if it gets out in the open in ways that fully merit a DNRIP warning.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

I’d love to extend a bff charm to Liza and Annie, but I’m not sure they’d have me. It’s not that they wouldn’t like me, but they’re so wrapped up in each other I think it’d be hard for them to let anyone else in. I completely understand — first love is all consuming enough when it’s out in the open, and I think keeping a relationship secret would make it even more exclusive.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

From their first flirty game of medieval make-believe to their long ramblings at Coney Island, I spent most of this book alternately yelling at Liza and Annie to just GET IT ON ALREADY!! and totally dreading the poop hitting the rotary oscillator if they got caught, and nothing makes for sexual tension like forbidden love. I think I felt every tingle the girls did each time they accidentally-on-purpose brushed hands or leaned into each other or stole kisses, and swooned out of my chair whenever Liza called Annie her unicorn.

Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit

Garden manages to capture the awkwardness of 17, first love and (jeez o pease) TALKING about first love — and sex — at 17. Liza’s sometimes self conscious, sometimes embarrassed, sometimes breathless as she talks about what happened with Annie, and grows more certain with every painfully honest memory.

The oddest thing, perhaps, was that even as the winter went on, we still didn’t touch each other much more than we had at the beginning, after around Christmas, I mean. But we did realize more and more that winter that we wanted to — I especially realized it, I guess, since it was new to me. And the more we realized it, the more we tried to avoid it. No. The more I did, at least at first … The worst thing was that we were too shy to talk about it. And we got so tangled up that we began misunderstanding each other more and more often, just in general, and … we began to fight about dumb things.

Bonus Factor: Lesbians

Pride flag being waved in a parade

I don’t mean this in the way a jackass frat boy means it. Annie is a classic coming out novel, and no matter how accepted homosexuality is today, and how great it is to have LGBTQ characters in YA books who aren’t “lesson” characters, it’s important to have books that show the hard side of falling in love as a gay teen. I’m not gay, so it’s hard to talk about this book without sounding like a white person who goes on about how interesting all those exotic, ethnic cultures are, BUT here goes. It’s important to get a glimpse of the turmoil Liza and Annie go through when I really wanted them to just be able freely get swept up in falling in love, even if I’ve never been there.

Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram

Jenifer Lewis as Ruby, a sassy Black grandmother on Black-ish

I LOVE Annie’s Sicilian Nana, and even though she doesn’t have a big role in the book, she’s like Liza and Annie’s tiny little cupid.

Relationship Status: I’ll Stand By You

I read this for the first time last week — it was probably banned in my hometown, so I didn’t even hear about it until a few years ago — but it’s fast become one of my favorite books. Sure, it’s an Issue Novel, but hell, the way gay people are treated IS still an Issue. Since I can’t marry this book, at least not in all 50 states, I’ll have to settle for promising to stand by it through thick and thin, and make sure there’s a copy in every library in which I ever work.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Annie on My Mind is available now.

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.