Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

A multicultural, interesting novel students will enjoy

Published in 1985

Set in Antigua, a former British colony in the Caribbean

Annie John takes place in the former British colony of Antigua, where Kincaid lived as a child.

Multiculturalism in Comparisons

Annie John makes many comparisons between the cultures of Antigua and Great Britain including:

  • Annie' comments on how they learn about Christopher Columbus as a hero but he took over the islands from the natives who lived there first.
  • Annie's description of her classmate, Ruth, who is from England and seems to feel out of place in Antigua and guilty around her classmates of African descent because of what had happened between their ancestors.
  • Annie's mothers' persistent belief in old-fashioned, superstitious remedies and precautions to avoid and cure illnesses or injuries.

Meet Annie

Annie John, the main character of the book, is a smart, somewhat mischievous girl growing up in Antigua. As she grows older, her whole life changes. She and her mother, who previously had a close, loving relationship, grow apart as Annie becomes a teenager. Annie begins keeping secrets from her mother, sneaking out to meet a friend whom her mother disapproves of, misbehaving at school, and hiding belongings which her mother has forbidden her to have underneath the house. As she and her mother become almost enemies rather than friends, Annie is surprised to realize that it was not her mother who had changed after all, but she herself has become almost an entirely different person.

A Relatable Story About Growing Up

Have you ever...

  • Started at a new school?
  • Argued with your parents?
  • Shared a secret hideout with your best friend?
  • Made a joke about something you've learned?
  • Grown apart from a once-close friend?
  • Met someone whom you wished you could be just like?
  • Said something you immediately regret?

Plot Highlights

Full of humor, bringing comic relief to dramatic moments

"I thought of begging my mother to ask my father if he could build me a set of clamps into which I could screw myself at night before I went back to sleep and which would surely cut back on my growing."

"The piano teacher, a shriveled-up old spinster from Lancashire, England, soon asked me not to come back, since I seemed unable to resist eating from the bowl of plums she had placed on the table purely for decoration."

"'You are Annie John? We hear you are very bright.' It was a good thing Miss Nelson walked in right then, for how would it have appeared if I had replied, 'Yes, that is completely true,'--the very thing that was on the tip of my tongue."

A satisfying conclusion that still leaves room for imagination

Annie John wraps up as Annie is a young adult, ready to make a new life for herself in the world. The ending ties up the conflicts in the story, but leaves room for the reader to imagine for themselves where Annie's new life will take her next.