***This book was reviewed via XPresso Blog Tours
**mild trigger warning- rape/sexual assault, not fully explicit
Steadman’s Ann, Not Annie is the quirky, at times sad, tale of Annie Grey. Annie, who prefers being called Ann, is going through that most awful time of life- high school. Following a terrible accident that shatters her fragile family, Ann becomes withdrawn and surly, more likely to be found in detention than actual class. In the wake of her mother’s increasingly severe alcoholism, she’s left to take care of her younger brother Tommy, as well as taking care of her mother. Can Danny, Ann’s fellow detention-mate, help her find the balance and stability she lost before she loses her last connections to her family and her best friend Lisa? Or will newfound status and lifestyle completely corrupt her?
Ann, Not Annie addresses serious subjects with compassion, and with respectful sarcastic humour that perfectly reflects Ann’s personality. The way the story paints the tragic results of alcoholism make it clear just how terrible such circumstances can be. I really felt for Ann. Her older brother is estranged from the family (well, more correctly from Meredith, Ann’s mom, but he doesn’t come around to visit or call his younger siblings either). Her mother is an alcoholic, and leaves the care of Tommy to Ann. Thankfully, he’s a young adult rather than a toddler or baby. An accident is alluded to throughout the story, but it’s a while before we get details. It doesn’t excuse Meredith’s alcoholism, but does make it easier to understand. She, like Ann, has trouble facing and articulating emotions.
There are drawings scattered throughout the book. Ann is always doodling, and so we get to see her drawings, which are pretty amusing. The story pokes fun at itself, and its genre, when the narrator remarks that high school is a sucky time, and questions why there is a whole subgenre centred around it. I loved Danny. He seems to have a good understanding of suffering. He treats Ann like a wounded animal, slowly working to earn her trust, and does a great job of it. Thoreau’s Walden plays a big part in the story, and we get distilled life lessons that are as pertinent today, as they were during Thoreau’s time.