Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
Genre: Coming of Age
Publication Date: 1985
Recommended Age Group: 14 and Up
Summary: Annie John is a story of a girl growing up in Antigua by Jamaica Kincaid. The girls name is Annie (just like the title) and it talks about her struggles growing up as she tries to make friends and build a better relationship with her mother. The story starts out when Annie is younger (somewhere before the age of 12) and it tells how when she wasn’t at school she spent a lot of time with her mother. However, as she enters puberty her mother starts to treat her different and expects more of her without telling Annie exactly what or why. This is the start of problems between her and her mother and is also the beginning of their drifting apart. It also talks of Annie’s life and school and her making friends. She is always the best in her class and this inspires awe and kindness in some and envy and meanness in others. The book talks about her struggles with these problems while she struggles with becoming a woman and all the uncertainty that accompanies that. Annie is also quite sick in the book, I’m not sure what with, it never really said, but she was confined to bed for a couple of months with this illness. It seemed to have quite the affect on her life. The book ends when she decides to go to England to study to be a nurse and is leaving her family behind. She is excited to begin something new but is afraid to leave what she knows.
Personal Notes: I think because of the way it talks about certain things that happen when girls reach puberty this would not be appropriate for boys. I think however this would be wonderful for girls of that age because they will be able to read about someone they can identify with and know that they are not alone in their problems. It is also interesting the way that she says she does not get along with her mother and yet in many instances in the book she emulates her actions and will only speak kindly of her to her friends in hope that she will always appear in the best light. I enjoyed the fact that this girl was from Antigua but had many of the same problems that I experienced when I was a young girl growing up in America. It crosses bounds and teaches us that no matter where we are some things are always the same.