Reading 1001 discussion

Annie John
This topic is about Annie John
1001 book reviews > Annie John by Kincaid

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Kristel (kristelh) | 4210 comments Mod
Annie John Written in 1985, it tells the story of a coming of age for Annie John, only child of her mother and father. This story captures the closeness of daughter and mother in childhood and the distancing that occurs during adolescence. I never thought of it as a process that parents also go through but in this story, the author captures the changes in the mother as her daughter becomes a young lady. It captures the painfulness of that passage for Annie who morns the loss of that earlier relationship which she never quite fines a way to replace. In addition, this book captures in words a bout of depression, especially the color of depression. There is a theme of death in the book but no one dies except childhood and the mother daughter relationship.

Some quotes: "My unhappiness was something inside me, and when I closed my eyes I could even see it. It sat somewhere --maybe in my belly, maybe in my heart; I could not exactly tell--and it took the shape of a small black ball, all wrapped up in cobwebs."


"For I could not be sure whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world. I highlighted this last part because of having just read Between the World and Me.

John Seymour I really liked this the first time I read it; not as much the second time.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 4 stars

Review Part memoir, part novel, Jamaica Kincaid's coming of age story is sweet, simple and entertaining. I listened to the audio version and am so glad that I did as the voice of the narrator felt authentic and real. I could imagine the sassy, funny girl that was telling her story to me. It felt like we were sitting down to coffee and she was telling mer her tale. It felt like a long and wonderful afternoon sitting and being enchanted by her. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Valerie Brown | 635 comments Read March 2020

I don’t normally seek out ‘coming of age’ stories, so I think that colored my perception of this book. As well, the protagonist (Annie John) wasn’t particularly likeable. However, she definitely was a determined and self-assured person. It was interesting to hear the voice of someone from another culture and time period. I thought the ending of the book was very well written and powerful. I listened to the audio version of this book and the reader added a lot by reading the book in an Caribbean accent. 3.5*

Gail (gailifer) | 1490 comments Jamaica Kindcaid's story about growing up on the island of Antigua is strangely impactful. Our main character, Annie John, is a precocious only child who luxuriates in her mother's love. Annie is a loving daughter, a good student and has deeply felt emotional friendships that verge on obsessions. As she matures she finds that her mother's unconditional love shifts to placing expectations on her in regards ladylike behavior. However, these prescriptions are never outlined or described as a whole, rather we read about their conflict in small examples, such as Annie repeatedly lying to her mother about playing marbles which her mother regards as unladylike behavior. Annie reacts to this change in status through small rebellions and deep despairs ultimately becoming ill in what is described as a depressive like fog.
The impact of the book comes from the detailed descriptions of what Annie is seeing and feeling counterbalanced by the lack of insight into what others are seeing and feeling. I was often delighted to be in Annie's company. Yet, I saw that Annie's mother continued to love her daughter, caring for her throughout her illness and yet, Annie rejects this relationship, hiding her anger and distaste for her mother inside herself until she can leave her. This vacuum left me feeling unsettled and haunted at the end. Is Annie's extreme self obsession part of the growing up process and can one not become a mature individual until one has rejected their parents? I had to respect Annie's self possession and solid decisions about what she wanted and needed from life but could not understand why she needed to leave "forever" never to return. The author's fully intended ambiguity makes for a powerful ending.

Patrick Robitaille | 975 comments ***

This is a coming-of-age short story taking place in Antigua where the eponymous character matures from childhood to adulthood as a good student with a slightly rebellious edge and a somewhat obsessive nature. It is the brewing antagonism between her mother's ideals and the daughter's wishes which provide the main thread of the story until the very last page. The writing is reminiscent of Alice Munro, but more with the actual voice of a Caribbean teenager of the 60s/70s; this felt more authentic. I preferred this to Munro, yet it was not overwhelmingly gripping.

Rosemary | 151 comments A story of growing up as a prickly, rebellious, intelligent only child. This is the story of Annie's life from earliest childhood to the age of 17. She lives on the island of Antigua with a strict mother and a father who is much older and mostly absent emotionally, if not physically. She has intense friendships and can be cruel. It all felt very realistic, but hard to like.

My enjoyment was probably affected by listening to an audiobook narrated in a strange accent that seemed to meld Caribbean intonation with Irish vowels. Not much like any person from the Caribbean that I know. I tried to ignore it, but I think it was a barrier between me and the story.

back to top