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Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

By Dave McCoy

Jamaica Kincaid beautifully delineates hatred and fear, because she knows they are often a step away from love and obsession. At the start of Annie John, her 10-year-old heroine is engulfed in family happiness and safety. Though Annie loves her father, she is all eyes for her mother. When she is almost 12, however, the idyll ends and she falls into deep disfavor. This inexplicable loss mars both lives, as each grows adept at public falsity and silent betrayal. The pattern is set, and extended: "And now I started a new series of betrayals of people and things I would have sworn only minutes before to die for." In front of Annie's father and the world, "We were politeness and kindness and love and laughter." Alone they are linked in loathing. Annie tries to imagine herself as someone in a book--an orphan or a girl with a wicked stepmother. The trouble is, she finds, those characters' lives always end happily. Luckily for us, though not perhaps for her alter ego, Kincaid is too truthful a writer to provide such a finale.



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"Not that I do not like Kincaid's writing style, as I think she is quite talented, but in the realm of her autobiographical stories, she sounds like a whining fool with regards to her relationship with her mother. From what I've read, her mother treated her well enough in her youth and from then on, treated her as an adult. Kincaid seems tortured by her memories of her mother, when in fact I do not see anything that should put her in such a position. Her mother very well may have been a little harsh in her treatment of her as she became an adult, however, this is what was necessary to make her into the type of woman that was typical in Antigua and all she knew."


"Annie John was a beautifully written story about a young girl and the choices and experiences she has as she is passing through puberty. Annie is so realistic it is almost as if she is sharing her life with you, like she's right there. the writing was very touching and emotional and I look forward to the next book in the series."


"An unaffecting sumptuous, irresistible novel - thrilling."


"I didn't like Annie John at all. It is presented as "everygirl" which it most surely is not. It is hard to know what events concerning Annie John and her mother actually happen, and what is perceived to happen. Annie John cannot be trusted to truthfully tell her own story. Her mental illness prevents her from being objective. Is her mother so horrible, or is Annie John a spoiled only child who wants her mother totally to herself, without giving anything in return?"


"This is a great quick read for anyone that is pushed for time to do a book report, or some one who just can't handle long books. The unusal setting adds flavor to the book. It was so wierd because while I was reading the book I started to act like Annie and fight with my mom, until my mom had to lecture me on changing my attitude."

--Panda Bear

"This book does not have a plot. It's mainly pieces of narratives about a young girl growing up in a Caribbean island. The author seems quite obsessed with females and their sexuality and one wonders what this book will do especially for young female readers. This should be seen against the background that this is a text for the CXC Syllabus for the Caribbean. We are really living in a 'Madern World'. I ask myself the question, what can a young Caribbean learn from this book? What reinforcements are there in this book for good values and attitudes? What was the aim of the writer when she/he wrote this book? Why does the writer uses a pen name? The author seems to ignore the father in the story when in the Caribbean setting of that time, to find a father and mother living together and even being married was and still is quite rate."




Author: Jamaica Kincaid

Released: 1980s


Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Cassette

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