Annie on My Mind by Nancy GardenAnnie On My Mind. By Nancy Garden. Aerial Fiction, 1982.

For what this book is, it is outstanding. One of the first books to openly and honestly discuss homosexuality in a time when it was considered taboo and a disease. Back when people could get in trouble. And here, the characters are teens, under the rule of their school administration and parents who feel like they know what’s right for their kids.

Annie and Liza meet at a museum one day and their friendship blossoms into love. While they explore their relationship, they come to terms with themselves, what being gay means, and the consequences for it in their community. One weekend, their understanding teacher lets Liza house-sit and Liza invites Annie, where they finally have alone time. In the middle of playing house and messing around, they are caught. The school threatens them, their parents threaten them, they have problems with their religious community.

The story starts when Annie is already gone to California and acts like a retrospective, through Liza’s letters and memories. I like the teenage longing and the self-discovery. Although I didn’t mind it at the time, I guess the language is very archaic and dates them, and the scenes and arguments are a bit constructed. You can tell this is a story from the 80s. But that’s ok. It was groundbreaking when it was written and authentic when it was written. Thankfully our society has come along way and we have many books for kids and teens about the homosexual experience that have dared to challenge more things in society. But Annie On My Mind was not ready for that yet. And that’s ok. So this might be a little hard sell to teens now because they think it sounds like “old people language.” But, I don’t think they’ll regret getting swept up into an honest look at same sex love in the 80s. Hell, have them watch the Harvey Milk movie after (Academy Award nominee).

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