- “The Annie Year” by Stephanie Ash
- Contemporary Adult Fiction
- Read as a hard copy book given to me by the Publisher for an honest review
- 5/5 stars
- Finished December 5, 2016
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 and decorative beaded belt, Kenny catches Tandy’s eye immediately. Ignoring the fact of her slovenly husband—who takes most of his meals in their hot tub—Tandy decides to entertain Kenny’s advances.
Trusted community pillar that she is, Tandy’s affair has instant repercussions. People are talking and her husband’s subsequent breakdown and check-in to a mental institution doesn’t help. At her regular meeting with the Order of the Pessimists—comprised of her deceased father’s disgruntled and drunken best friends—she is asked to step down as treasurer. Not only that, but her old lover is keeping a secret somehow connected to the Vo-Ag teacher. And meth labs—fueled by the abundance of fertilizer present in the region—keep blowing up. Somehow, it is all connected to Tandy’s ex-best friend’s daughter—the star of this year’s Annie. As Tandy pieces together the puzzle that has become her life, it becomes clear she must embark on a journey of self-discovery that might even include leaving town for good.
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 the year and thought it sounded funny. The description makes it sound funny, doesn’t it? And it is. I had skimmed other reviews that mentioned Tandy being an unreliable narrator so then I thought maybe I was in for a funny Gone Girl or something. I’ll tell you this: the book is funny, and Tandy to me, was not an unreliable narrator. She was an honest one.
Tandy isn’t free of flaws, but the summary makes the book sound like she’s just casually having an affair for the whole book and it’s funny!!! But that’s not really the whole heart of the book. The heart of the book revolves around a woman who was born and raised in small-town Midwest America and has just kind of stayed there. There aren’t people her age, and her closest friends are friends of her dads. It’s something my grandparents have seen a lot now living in rural Maine. Most young people leave, and the ones that stay, stay.
Tandy is forced to deal with some of the demons of her past when it comes to her ex-best friend and her daughter, and I really don’t want to say anything more than that. The book is so heartfelt, although I wouldn’t necessarily say heartWARMING. It has a big twist in it, but it, yet again, felt just so real. I wasn’t ready for this book to end, and like I said, it’s my favorite book of the entire year. However, I did feel like the ending was complete. I felt fulfilled in the ending, and I wasn’t hungry for more because it didn’t wrap up well, I’m just hungry for more in general.
You will honestly regret missing out on this book.
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