Description:This groundbreaking book, first published in 1982, 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. (From Goodreads)
I picked this book up a while back, but I never actually got around to reading it. I started it, then set it aside, not because it wasn't good, but because it wasn't the right book for me at the given time. I don't remember what I decided to read instead, but I've been meaning to finish this one for a while now. So, I decided to pick this back up again, and I'm glad that I did, because it was lovely and touching.
Annie On My Mind is Liza Winthrop's coming-of-age story of how she met Annie Kenyon, became friends with her, and eventually fell in love with her. Reading the story, it's not hard to understand how these two girls could love one another. They are both lively, fun and imaginative, intuitive and unique. They both are kind of loners who find in each other an understanding that each thought was impossible, or at the very least, improbable. Liza mentions how they feel as if they are two parts of a whole, and refers to Greek literature which claims that the gods made everyone with two halves in all combinations (male/female, male/male, female/female), and then split them apart. Liza claims to have found her other half.
I am fully of the opinion that people should be free to live and love as they choose. I think that the arguments against homosexuality are mainly based in fear and ignorance, not to mention the utterly ridiculous, such as the "If we let gays marry, then what's next, human/animal marriages?" argument. Last I checked, gay people are able to think and communicate their wants and needs, and more importantly, enter into a legally binding, consentual contract, which is to my knowledge, something Gertie the Cow just can't do.
This book generally focuses on the religious aspect, with the characters who are offended by Liza and Annie's relationship indicating that homosexuality is immoral and an abomination, although they don't get too overtly preachy, as much as just nasty in their disgust. I am not a religious person, as most people who know me by know are aware of, and I admit that it baffles me how people who are against homosexuality cherry-pick this one biblical "law" to follow, when so many other tenets of the bible are outdated and abhorrent, like requiring death for working on the Sabbath, as one example.
My least favorite character in the book was definitely Liza's friend Sally. She, more than anyone else, made me angry, because she couldn't even claim to have her own opinions on the matter, and just let herself be herded into the opinion that it was wrong, and just blindly accepted that was the case. She made me all the angrier for having the audacity to compare a life decision to a piddling mistake in judgement, and then condemn Liza, and homosexuality itself, as being a mental illness. This kind of attitude really makes me angry, since we have come so far toward tolerance of different ways of life, and yet still have so very far to go.
I really liked both Annie and Liza, and could identify with their feelings, even though I have never experienced that type of situation before. I thought that Nancy Garden did a fantastic job in portraying the newness and uncertainty of their relationship. It was certainly awkward, and as much as things progressed kind of naturally from Point A to Point B to Point C, as it would in any relationship, it held that extra bit of uncertainty and fear due to the stigma of their being two girls, rather than a traditional boy/girl couple.
I love how they tested the waters together, found that there were waves and a strong current, but still found the courage to keep swimming. This is definitely a book that every young person, or, really every person should read. It is a very personal, and intimate look at the way we can find who we are when we least expect it, and how we must be brave and trust in ourselves once we do.