‘Annie on My Mind’ by Nancy Garden

“The thing about mountains is that you have to keep on climbing them, and that it’s always hard, but there’s a view from top every time when you finally get there.”

In the literature industry, even to this day, it doesn’t recognise the LGBT stories – written by diverse authors – that wait to be spoken about. ‘Annie on My Mind’ is considered groundbreaking for its time of 1982, which is understandable, but reading it three decades later, though sweet and undeniably cheesy, it could play out as the same generic white love story had it not been for the fact it is two gay women.

And somewhat an example of why stories with themes or characters who are LGBT+, People of Colour, or disabled, deserve to share the spotlight as much as the stories with white, straight, cisgender, and able-bodied themes or characters.

One day, Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon, and from that moment she knows there’s something special between them; a story of love, confusion, and identity, promising to stay true to their feelings despite the pressures from their life threatening their relationship. A memorable read for its representation, theme, and good-natured relationship.

Their relationship is one of kindness, appreciation and being utterly smitten with each other, written without making it a huge deal. A natural element of the story – with the exception with some bumps along the way, such as Liza questioning her sexuality at one point, and other characters homophobia, as far as suggesting therapy – refreshingly welcomed after seeing many stories following the typical ‘coming-out’ theme. Which, although not a bad thing, stories of simply falling in love, or having sex, an established embracing of sexuality, is something I’ve not seen much.

Cheesy is another term I would use to describe this novel, furthered by Annie’s character, which is borderline childish, but not in the negative definition usually attached to it. Rather than off-putting, her behaviour is freeing, shown in how she and Liz spend their time kissing, or holding hands, or enjoying each other’s company. Whilst the jump in their relationship seems a tad premature, making declarations and confessions by the halfway point, the fact they are young and only beginning to explore each other does act as an underlying reason; that, and how Annie never pressures Liz into anything she is not comfortable with, explicitly stating so.

“Have you ever felt really close to someone? So close that you can’t understand why you and the other person have two separate bodies, two separate skins?”

By the end, the theme of love conquers all does become significant, crossing that line of sappiness. Intimate scenes are told like poetry, dialogue sometimes adopting a monologue of love, and the end abruptly closing with the most cliché of ways; the most negative things I can say because this novel seems to have sincere intentions.

Annie on My Mind’ is agreeably touching and genuine, simultaneously showing the negative reactions of society, but also highlighting the importance of recognising different sexualities are very much real and normal. Although not the most mind-blowing of novels, it is, without a doubt, a gateway for me to find more diverse authors and their works.

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