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Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind - Nancy Garden I think reviewing Annie on my mind should be a little different than other contemporary lesbian romances.

We should keep in mind that this book was written with a purpose. In the words of the author: "I wrote it to give solace to young gay people, to let them know they were not alone, that they could be happy and well adjusted and also to let heterosexual kids know that we gay people aren't monsters".
We should remember that this book was published in 1982, that it was banned from Kansan City schools and publicly burned.
In other words this is a book of liberty, an instrument for freedom rights, written with heart for oppressed teens and a courage monument.

Its message is very simple. Homosexual people just love like everybody else. And true love is always noble, beautiful, meaningful, precious.

For two thirds of the book, the story is delicate, sweet. Two nice, intelligent seventeen years old girls, Liza and Annie, meet and fall in love.
Feeling between them is immediate, and then these feelings grow and bud into love. They become aware of their own homosexuality, they see it's a good and natural thing for them and gradually come to accept it.
They live their story in the closet, share first kisses and discover sex. There are not sex scenes in the novel, but the reader knows there is sex between them.
What really works well in their relationship (and how it's described) is a mixt of friendship and spontaneity.
I'm a big fan of friendship inside a love relationship, and Liza and Annie keep supporting each others as friends in every phase of their story.
And then they are seventeen years old girls, they behave as such, doing silly and childish things among more serious, adult attitudes. That was so credible and funny.
By the way, I'm asking myself if the term "unicorn" related to lesbians (with so many controversial meanings today), is born with this book as Liza and Annie meet in front of the unicorn tapestries of The Cloisters museum in New York and start to address each other as unicorns.

What comes next is easy to expect, as everything before was hinting that that moment was coming, but I put it under spoiler.

At exactly two thirds of the book they get caught. In Liza's school, attended by socially wealthy pupils, bigotry reigns and that is an ominous sign pending on her head.
While Annie, who frequents a poor school, make it to escape, Liza undergoes the ordeal.
She is forced to come out to her parents (which doesn't come without hurt) and ends up openly exposed to all her school.

As they got caught at the home of two good lesbian teachers they also put them in serious trouble. The two adult teachers, who generously help the two girls, sharing their past experience and problems, are wonderful secundary characters.

Liza falls into a crisis and for some months she has to deal with herself, leaving Annie alone. But at the very end she will accept and overcome everything and Annie, of course, will be there.

Out of the spoiler, there is a clash between ignorance and bigotry on one hand and understanding people on the other. All is so realistic. The MC are not heroes, they are very human. They stumble, fall and get up again. Liza's family will have to struggle, too.
Price will be paid, but at the end love will win.

I've seen in some of the previous reviews that some people (straight of course) minimized as unlikely what happens to them. They say the negative characters are just a caricature.
But I tell you, Italy is just out of the battle for the civil union new law for homesexuals. Those people are real. Bigotry, intollerance, racism, it's all there.
And while the situation is certainly much better since 1982 and I firmly believe the positive forces are winning, still the fight against ignorance must go on.

I loved this little great book, both for its message of hope and for its simplicity and good heart.