Nancy Garden – Annie on My Mind


The groundbreaking book, first published in 1982, is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.

Annie on My Mind is a beautiful love story about a friendship that blooms into love for two young women who are from different sides of the track. Liza attends a private high school and comes from a white-collar family, and Annie attends a public school and comes from a lower-income part of town. They’re both bright and accomplished teenagers: Liza, who is applying for MIT to study architecture and Annie, a talented singer who dreams of being accepted into the music program at UC Berkeley. The connection that they feel is immediate, and it grows as they spend more time with each other.

This is a deeply introspective and well-written coming-of-age novel. Truly an extraordinary work from both a historical and literary standpoint. Dare, I say, its significance to American culture rivals Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird? Annie on My Mind was published in 1982. I read this novel for the first time as a high school student in 1999, then again as an adult in 2016. Over the years, the story has not lost its beauty, its meaning, or even its relevance in today’s society. Looking at current statistics of teenagers who have become homeless after coming out to their families, you’ll agree that this book still has a very important place in our library shelves. Even as our society continues to progress, Annie on My Mind will be our reminder of where we were before, where we are today, and where we need to be tomorrow.

Annie on My Mind is the first gay/lesbian novel that I read, and it was during a very significant time in my life.

Since I can remember, I’ve always gravitated towards women. 4-year-old me used to hide behind my mother’s skirt when we went to our local grocery store because I thought the cashier was attractive. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I felt brave enough to openly admit those feelings. It was a frightening experience for me. I never felt as alone and isolated as I did after I came out to my parents. Even now, it’s difficult for me to talk about how my mother reacted and the irreparable damage it’s done to our relationship.

I was fortunate enough to have a teacher at my high school who put this book in my hand and told me that everything was going to be okay. Annie on My Mind helped me feel like I was a normal kid, and that I wasn’t some evil, Godless soul doomed to spend an eternity burning in hell for following my heart. It’s amazing how a $6.95 paperback novel can change your perspective and change your life. I’ve been writing reviews on this site for this reason. In my own way, I want to pay it forward. Even if it only reaches one person and helps him/her feel less alone in this terrifyingly brave process of coming out, then it would make every minute that I spent working on this website worth the time and effort. Our world deserves more love. We all deserve more love.

And everything is going to be okay. Promise.

1. Great Good Fine Ok – Say It All
2. Citizen Cope – One Lovely Day
3. Little Brutes – Make Our Own Way
4. Betty Who – You’re in Love
5. Mary Lambert – She Keeps Me Warm
6. Jesse Rubin – This Is Why I Need You
7. Chelsea Lankes – Secret
8. Emily King – Distance
9. David Gray – Back in the World
10. Christina Perri & Ed Sheeran – Be My Forever

This book would be best read with a coke.


Patricia Highsmith – The Price of Salt

Price of Salt

The Price of Salt tells the riveting story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce.  They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. 

The first question in my mind was why the heck would the author name her novel The Price of Salt.  As I read into the book, it started making sense. What is salt?  Salt is an essential nutrient that preserves and sustains life. Salt sits on your dinner table and you shake it on your food if it’s bland and you want to enhance the taste.  I interpreted salt as a metaphor for love and it’s application into the story, as well as it’s trans-formative power in Therese’ drab and lifeless existence before she met Carol, is masterful.

With this novel, you’re either going to hate it or love it.  There are certain aspects of this story that can feel very unsettling, and some might even consider Carol or Therese as a sort of antihero.  I was undecided about Carol’s character for most of the novel.  It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I could better understand and appreciate the depth of her love and her pain.  The tone of The Price of Salt is somber, and a love story within that tenor is like the beauty of a rainy day.  This novel’s intensity will leave no doubt to the reader that it is rooted in a deeply personal experience of the writer.  The writing breathes life through the author’s first-hand knowledge of a love that was once considered an abomination within her society.

In 1989, in reference to this novel, Patricia Highsmith is quoted, “Prior to this book, homosexual male and female in American novels had had to pay for their deviation by cutting their wrists, drowning themselves in a swimming pool, or by switching to heterosexuality (so it was stated), or by collapsing-alone and miserable and shunned-into a depression equal to hell.”  I would consider Highsmith as one of the pioneers in queer literature, and her contributions helped pave a happier road for fictional lesbian characters.

The Price of Salt is a priceless gift from the past, and the type of story that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

1.  Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz – The Girl from Ipanema
2.  Patsy Cline – Crazy
3.  Billie Holiday – Easy Living
4.  Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
5.  Frankie Laine – Jezebel
6.  Johnny Mathis – Chances Are
7.  Nine Simone – To Love Somebody
8.  Ella Fitzgerald – Embraceable You
9.  Platters – Only You (And You Alone)
10.  Joe Pass – All The Things You Are
11.  Billie Holiday – All of Me
12.  Doris Day – Secret Love

This book would be best read with an….

-2 oz of rye whiskey or bourbon whiskey.  Rye, if you want spicier.  Bourbon, if you want sweeter.
-3 dashes of bitters.
-1 splash of water
-1-2 tsp of simple syrup
-Orange peel
-Large ice cube

Mix the simple syrup, water and bitters in a rock glass.  Drop the large ice cube in the glass.  Pour the whiskey over it.  Mix well.  Twist the orange peel over the drink, then rim the glass before dropping it in the drink. Welcome to the 50s!