Book Reviews: Annie John

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Annie John
by Jamaica Kincaid

This coming-of-age story follows a young girl, Annie, as she grows up on the island of Antigua. There are eight episodes, each a picture of Annie's life as she tries to understand the world around her.

Annie wasn't a likeable character, though I suppose few young teenage girls are likeable in real life. So in that way Kincaid's portrayal of the girl felt very real, but at the same time, it's hard to love such a selfish and often cruel character.

Annie has a tendency to become obsessed with her friends. She lets one girl become the focus of her world and then, just as quickly, she loses interest in her and moves on. Kincaid has said in interviews that she never meant for Annie's character to be interpreted as homosexual, but at the same time, the relationships feel more like crushes than friendships.

As a child Annie idolizes her mother, but as she grows older she begins to hate her. She develops a deep resentment of her mother and never overcomes it. The book skirts around many issues and in doing so left me wanting. It touches on depression, giving the reader a glimpse
of that condition in Annie, but just as quickly drops it. Overall it was an interesting read, but didn't really work for me.

If the basic story sounds good I'd recommend, The Meaning of Consuelo and The House on Mango Street. I enjoyed both of those books more than Annie John and they have similar premises.


Kristi said...

I'm guessing I wouldn't like this. I have a difficult time with protagonists that I strongly dislike. I don't mind if they have faults, but I have to be able to sympathize with them in some way.

I loved The House on Mango Street when I read it in high school! I read it again a few years ago and loved it even more the second time. I'll have to see if I can find The Meaning of Consuelo.

Vaishnavi said...

I don't really think this sort of a story line is for is a bit depressing, although I think if the narration is deep and taut it would be interesting. I love the cover of the book though!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I would pass on this one. I’d never read anything else by this author and I kept seeing her mentioned different places. I’m wondering if I just chose the wrong book to start with or if all of her writing is along these lines.

Teacher/Learner said...

Interesting take on this book. I read it a few years ago in university & liked it overall but wasn't too overcome with it. I would recommend this over Kincaid's Autobiography of my Mother, which was very dark & tough to get through.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Teacher/Learner - I'm definitely skipping that one.