Monday, December 31, 2012

Annie on My Mind

1982, 1997 Aerial edition
Nancy Garden
Annie on My Mind
Original and purchase price unknown
Worn paperback

Before this, most YA novels with gay characters had tragic endings, ranging from break-up to death.  (Death of protagonist, lover, in one case a dog!)  Garden does separate the two girls, long enough for Liza to narrate their story, looking back months later, during freshmen year of college, but Liza calls Annie in the last couple pages and they reaffirm their love.

Despite the New York City setting, there's a quaint quality to this book, yes, much more than Divorce Express.  There are no topical references, and lesbian subject matter aside, it almost feels like the '50s, with "damn" the strongest swear-word, and one teenaged boy even saying "heck."  Liza's private school is particularly a product of an earlier time.  And compared to Forever, or even Dinky Hocker, it's very pure and innocent.  We know that the girls take off their clothes and go to bed together, but there are no physical details. 

This may be deliberate.  As Liza says, the relationship is about love, so Garden doesn't emphasize the sexual side, just hinting at it.  The novel has nonetheless been challenged in different towns, even burned in Kansas City, and is probably more offensive to homophobes than a more explicit, less romantic story would be, especially since the girls are caught by a homophobic Christian.

I think in a way I'd prefer the book if it were more rooted in its time, or any specific time, if it didn't have a little boy saying, during the girls' pretend sword fight, "I'm for the one in the cape!," which I can't imagine any twentieth-century child phrasing like that.  I am grateful for this novel paving the way, but I can't help wishing it were better.

No comments:

Post a Comment