1990s Nostalgia: Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
I don't even remember how old I was when I read this one. It probably happened sometime during my first two years of high school. In any case, some of the themes were a little too complex for me to truly understand until I got a bit older and reread my copy. The basic plot and what I understood was this:
-- Liza and Annie are friends from very different backgrounds who slowly, and without realising or understanding what is going on, fall in love.
-- Their relationship is discovered and looked down upon by various members of the community, but Liza's parents, in particular her father, choose to accept the relationship.
-- The pressure gets too much, the pair split up and now in her first year of college, Liza begins to realise how important Annie is. Hence why Annie is on her mind.
As a young reader, I understood that the pair were in love, but did not quite understand the complexities that lie beneath. I thought it was sad that the pair had split up and failed to see why Liza could not just admit that she loved Annie. What I realise now is that the author was depicting quite a complex relationship and set of circumstances. Being a heterosexual teenager, I had a limited understanding of the challenges that a homosexual teenager might face in terms of discrimination or just a lack of understanding from others, even when they were spelled out right in front of me. (Yes, I was that insensitive.) The novel does highlight these problems quite sensitively and challenges a number of stereotypes.
Annie on my Mind is a novel that has stood the test of time and is a good one for all teenagers to read regardless of their sexual orientation.