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The Annie Year

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  319 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Tall, trusted Tandy Caide, CPA, is a long-time patron of the arts in her town, which is why you will find her sitting in the front row of the high school’s annual musical production. This year is an Annie year—and it would be no different than other years were it not for the high school’s hiring of a new vocational agriculture (Vo-Ag) teacher. With his beguiling ponytail a ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by The Unnamed Press
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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  319 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Life is essentially unknowable in the middle parts. Only the very beginning and very end are certain: We are born. We die. All we know of the middle part is to pay our taxes.

before i received this book as part of my literary subscription box from quarterly, greg had shown it to me at the store, saying “look, it is funny grit lit!” which seemed a promising novelty - i love grit lit, but it is not a genre typically characterized by humor.

as it turns out, despite its smalltown setting, restless tee
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is a strange little book, almost quirky but not quite. The blurb on the cover calls it 'weirdly beguiling' and that pretty much sums it up.

The central character Tandy Caide, is a CPA who lives in a small town in Iowa. A very small town. She is the only CPA and one of four (really three if you don't count the vicar) members of the Chamber of commerce. Her father was a CPA and she went to college a short drive away and has never been out of Iowa. She is married to an enormously obese man who
Rachel Kulik
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I originally posted this on my blog Rachel Reading, so check it out there. I was also given this book by the Publisher for an honest review

Until I read this book I thought that my best book of the year would be "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi (which would have been well-deserved) but then I laid my hands on this tiny little novel, only about 250 pages, that moved me beyond expectation.

I heard about this book on a post on Book Riot of the books that were going to be released in the last six months of t
Kristin Boldon
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, new, own
A blurb on the cover says weirdly beguiling, and that's perfect. The wry humor and strong voice and character of MC Tandy Caide quietly drew me in and didn't let go.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Two stars in the Goodreads sense - "it was ok." I really wanted to like it, but every time I got into Tandy's quirky narration something so bizarre would be described so flippantly that I was put off. Or some statement I presume was intended to establish "quirk" was so over-the-top that I was jarred out of cadence. Honestly - what 36 year old woman has literally never heard of a sports bra? I grew up in a small town. They have sports bras there, too.

I couldn't tell if Tandy was completely unable
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Part of this book completely drew me in to the life of the main character and her small town, and part of it left me confused and wanting.

"Perhaps we all need something that doesn't belong in some way to someone else and is just for ourselves."

"I am still getting used to the notion that you can have two seemingly conflicting ideas about your life at once, and that could both be true."
Hannah Ruby
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was torn between 3 stars or 4 stars. Really, I think it's 3.5. Anyway, I come from a small town myself, so I really appreciate this book. The book was slow moving, much like where Tandy lives. I liked the twists thrown in here and there. I didn't LOVE this book like I wanted to, but it had its interesting points. It was definitely funny. Good ending too.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is Stephanie Wilbur Ash's debut novel, and it's not bad. Her novel,which appears to be set in northeastern Iowa, tells the story of Tandy Caide, CPA (You'll be reminded of the CPA thing-a LOT-so don't worry.) For reasons that become somewhat clear as the story progresses, she has long ago given up her youthful dreams of escaping to anywhere else (even Dubuque sounds exotic) and settles for life in her small, agrarian hometown. She works in her deceased father's accounting practice, she's ma ...more
Michelle Maxwell
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
This could have been a decent book. To put it simply, the writing drove me crazy and I was bored to death. A good author paints a story with words that lead you to feel a certain way. Ash straight up tells you how to feel, and continues a "small town vs. big city" battle throughout the entire novel. While there were a few moments of truth, the writing felt arrogant, condescending and unimaginative. The way Tandy's character was written was so incredibly unbelievable and stupid -- city people not ...more
Kayla Whitaker
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A longer review to come - but suffice it to say, this book knocked my socks off. It's incredible. The kind of book I will buy multiple copies of to give to the readers in my life this Christmas, it's that compulsively lovable.

Update: You can find my review of "The Annie Year" at Split Lip Magazine:
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Hard choice between three and four stars for this one. Beautifully written book about a woman struggling with the boredom and tedium of day to day life. But the underlying story was predictable and not as fulfilling as I'd like.

When it was good, it was Tandy Caide what it's like to be at a plateau in life. She's the best CPA in town (because she's the only one). Her bowling game is topping out in the 260s (needs to learn how to put some spin on it). She's married and owns a home, but her husband
Deanna Metts
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was very surprised at how much I liked this this book. After I would put it down, I found myself thinking about it at various times during the day. I always looked forward to the next time I could pick it back up. The main character is someone I think I’d like to talk to.
Alicia Riggins
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
I really enjoyed reading this book, and I am still enjoying thinking about it in new ways. First, this book is funny without being funny; and I found enough plot to go with the character development to keep me involved throughout the story.
Second, I keep re-thinking what this story was about; and I can't wait to discuss it with a group to see what they think about the storyline and this town.
Full of midwest dry humor, much appreciated by this FL transplant to MN.
Jill Goldstein
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read in a very long time.
Ash's humor made me giggle out loud and the main character, Tandy, was likeable and relatable on various levels. Not a love story, but a story about loving. Loving where you are in life, loving who you are and loving those around you, no matter what. And of course, about being a person of integrity.
This was a quick read, as it was hard to put down.
I would most certainly recommed this to a friend.
Bethany Whitehead
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
It's a great story. I love the small town personalities and the antics that everyone is up to. I can close my eyes and see the bowling alley, the school, the offices. My criticism comes with the writing- you really had to work to get through the repetition, often poor sentence structure, and unclear transitions to get to the story and the juice, but it was definitely worth it in the end. This would be a 5 star book with an editor to help with the writing issues.
Lauren Hopkins
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just a small town girl
Living in a town of literally like, 12
She took the midnight train just trying to go about her business but everyone couldn't get out her shit and the guy she slept with was a hipster
Redneck chic.
Aug 24, 2017 added it
Shelves: book-club
I can't rate this book. I enjoyed it, it spoke to me, it will stay with me. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, because I can't image on what criteria I would recommend it. It's sad, and weird, and hopeful, and trope-y, and complex, and beguiling, and revealing. At first, Tandy and her righteousness (as Mueller puts it later in the book) grated on me. She spoke to You the reader often in judgmental "you can't possibly understand us townsfolk tones" often. But the more I learned about her, the ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
“When I add up the total sum of that year, it is this particular line item that always gets me: it had to be an Annie year.
You see, if there was a talented tall girl at the high school, they do Hello, Dolly! If there is a girl who is unusually ugly, but funny enough to pull off Snoopy, they do You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. If a lot of boys get suspended from football early in the season for drinking and one of the star players-- the quarterback or the lead tackle or whoever-- can convince t
Janna Dorman
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-reads, 2017
Funny, cutting, and plucked straight from a small, rural Midwestern town. This is how I'd describe The Annie Year. Not much really happens in the story, but then, not much happens in small towns in rural Northeastern Iowa where the book takes place. The main character, Tandy Caides, is the town's only CPA, a fact she relishes and wishes weren't true all at the same time. She starts an affair with the high school's new Agriculture teacher, and chaos ensues.

I thought Ash did a remarkable job of c
Caleigh Rutledge
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Well, The Annie Year is quite something.

To be fair, 3 stars doesn't truly give this book credit. Ms. Ash has managed to capture the desolation, love, and stoic-faced-ness that is the deeper parts of Midwestern USA (at least, in my estimation anyway). The characters are grizzled and worn, and sometimes pretty darn bleak, but there is also something about the themes in this story that really are brilliant.

A lot goes on in "boring" small towns. Whether it be fighting to be recognized, struggling
Carol Taylor
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked "The Annie Year" - the first book by a Minnesota/Iowa author. I don't agree with some of the descriptions by reviewers such as hilarious - not so. It's just a year in the life of a small-town CPA and the relationships she has with the people in her life - some have been there her whole life and some are new. I liked the slower pace of the book and the descriptions of the Iowa countryside and small town life. A small part of the story deals with the impact of meth addiction in an area lik ...more
Carlene Amaro
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book because it felt predictable, but it kept taking turns I didn't expect. I've been trying to describe it to friends, but have been somewhat unable to pigeonhole it. I like that in a book.
There is as much humor as darkness in the book. The characters definitely evolve, and the setting feels authentic to me. I recommend it as a change of pace read from almost any genre.
Ashley Olson
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is the story of a lonely, sad, bored small-town lady who thinks no one else in this whole world understands how she feels because they're not from that [rural small town] part of the world and things are different there.

Supes ho hum.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great short novel, set in a small farm town. It manages to include an affair between two characters without becoming a romance novel. I will quote the Kirkus review for the rest: "Darkly hilarious and weirdly beguiling". Go read it.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF- I wanted to like it because I grew up in small town Iowa and a lot of references to cities, stores, etc. were nostalgic. But the writing otherwise wasn't very good and the story was blah.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Just . . . a very odd book. Didn't love it or hate it, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.
Dulcey Heller
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Picture a good News from Lake Wobegon, told by a woman, with a satisfying amount of sex. And oh, such a great take on musicals.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Fast read, good humor and an obvious feel for life in a small, and slowly getting smaller, town.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Ok. Quirky. Odd read but interesting enough to finish
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