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Thoughts on “Annie on My Mind” by Nancy Garden (Audiobook)

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden found its way onto my TBR list after I read Nymeth’s review over on things mean a lot.

About the Book:

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (audiobook cover)Annie and Liza are seniors in high school when their paths first happen to cross at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are immediately drawn to one another, inexplicably, and they quickly become close friends. Though their backgrounds are different–Liza attends private Foster Academy and comes from a well-off family, while Annie’s school is public and her immigrant family shares a small apartment–the girls soon realize they might be falling in love.

But the beginning of their story isn’t where we first encounter Annie and Liza. Instead, we meet Liza, in her first year at MIT, distracted from her studies by thoughts of Annie, in California, and of the mysterious series of events that drove them apart. As Liza finally lets herself revisit her last year at Foster Academy, the story of Liza and Annie unfurls.

Annie on My Mind was one of the first novels for teens to feature gay characters in a positive way.

My Thoughts:

I really loved Annie on My Mind. I found myself making up excuses to listen to it, like I always do when I’ve come across an especially entrancing audiobook. It felt, to me, like a fragile story, like a bird’s egg cupped in my hand. It was everything a love story should be: no gimmicks, no triangles, no supernatural creatures, just two young people discovering love for the first time. I think I loved that best. Though the girls’ sexuality and their discovery and exploration of it was certainly a part of the book, along with the repercussions it had in their worlds, Liza and Annie were first and foremost two characters in love. Their experiences being gay were laid over that strong foundation, creating a book and characters that were multilayered and complex and very real.

To surround Liza and Annie, Garden crafted some wonderful supporting characters. The world the girls inhabited ran the whole gamut of personalities, from supportive and understanding to homophobic and close-minded, and everything in between. These characters gave the reader a fuller story while allowing Garden to explore issues and situations that are both of interest and important. The issues were so well bound up with the characters that I never felt that tension within a novel that comes when an author tries to ascend the soapbox a little too often.

Though Annie on My Mind was first published in 1982, I was surprised to find almost nothing dated about it. There were a couple of moments when I wondered why Annie and Liza weren’t using cell phones. More alarming, as the book progressed, were the ways in which certain key events were handled. I often found myself wondering how such actions could prevail, forgetting the novel isn’t set today. The story felt so contemporary that I had to keep reminding myself it’s nearly 30 years old, that many (though not all) things have changed since its initial publication.

The audiobook was exquisite. Rebecca Lowman’s gentle, thoughtful voice fit Liza’s character like a glove. When Lowman read, Liza spoke. If you’re looking for a good audiobook, I can’t recommend Annie on My Mind highly enough. And as a bonus, there’s a very interesting interview with Nancy Garden following the novel, in which the author talks about her own experience of being gay and how times and literature have changed over the years. She even talks about how Annie on My Mind would be different if she’d written it today, a discussion I found especially fascinating.

Those are my thoughts. Check out Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden on GoodReads or LibraryThing, read other bloggers’ reviews, or listen to an Audible sample!

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  • http://www.ragingbibliomania.net/ zibilee

    I remember reading Ana’s review of this one, and thinking that it sounded like something I would enjoy. I like your description of it too, and how you compare it’s fragility to a bird’s nest. This was a great review, and I really enjoyed reading it. Since the book was already on my list, I won’t have to add it, but I will put it up closer to the top!

    • Erin

      I really really loved this one. I’d been struggling to find an audiobook I wanted to listen to when I came across it. It was so perfect for my mood. I definitely recommend it!

  • Jen – Devourer of Books

    “When Lowman read, Liza spoke.” What a beautiful way to put it! This sounds absolutely wonderful.

    • Erin

      It is indeed wonderful! I highly recommend it.

  • http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com Evie

    Fantastic review! I read another novel by Nancy Garden (totally forgot the name, tho! xD) and I remember I always wanted to read this one, too, but never actually had a chance! I’m so glad you liked it. I really, really like LGBT literature. Have you tried reading Sister Mischief??

    • Erin

      Thank you! I’ve never read anything else by Nancy Garden. I didn’t even realize she’d written anything else until I listened to the interview with her at the end of Annie on My Mind. I’ll have to check her others out. I’m only just discovering LGBT lit, but so far I’m really liking what I’ve read. I haven’t tried Sister Mischief; I’ll look into it!

  • http://bonjourcass.com Cass

    Yay! :)

    • Erin

      😀

  • https://www.herebedragons.posterous.com Hannah

    Can you please instruct me on how to enjoy an audiobook? I have only listened to one (Devil in the White City) while driving and didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t tell if it was the audio part or the book part that I didn’t enjoy. Thoughts?

    • Erin

      Haha, sure! I think it’s all in picking the right audiobook as a starting point. I didn’t “get” audiobooks until I listened to The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery a couple of years ago. The narrators were phenomenal, and I fell in love. It made me realize there were good audiobooks out there; it also made me realize the importance of the narrator. I’d say a good place to start would be an engaging novel (quick plot, maybe fantasy or YA, not too long). Nonfiction is tough, especially if it’s not your favorite genre (it’s definitely not mine!).

      So. For me, young adult lit works well on audio, as long as the narrator doesn’t sound too juvenile. Classics work really well, but get professional recordings, not the free ones on Librivox. I like fiction that’s not overly descriptive or wordy. I occasionally like nonfiction, but not always. I can’t listen unless I’m surrounded by story. So, I almost always put the audiobook onto my iPod and listen with headphones. I’ve tried playing it on my computer when I’m cleaning or cooking, for example, but my attention always wanders. I can listen in the car.

      Some things I look for: first person narratives (it’s like the character is telling you their story, as opposed to someone reading someone else’s story), engaging plots, narrators that sound natural. I always check out the audio sample on audible.com before checking an audiobook out of the library. I can usually get a good idea from that. Even so, I probably only end up listening to half the audiobooks I check out of the library. (I’m very fussy about narrators!)

      Some audiobooks I *loved* (narrators in parentheses): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Sissy Spacek), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Sherman Alexie), City of Thieves by David Benioff (Ron Perlman), Anything narrated by Neil Gaiman, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (2 narrators), Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (Grayce Wey), Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (both narrated by Alan Cumming), and Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (Dion Graham).

      I hope that helps!

  • http://carolsnotebook.wordpress.com carol

    Sounds like a wonderful book, and your review was so well-written.

    • Erin

      Thanks, Carol! I really loved this one.

  • http://leafingthroughlife.blogspot.com Megan

    This sounds like a great read. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

    • Erin

      Sure — enjoy!