Black History Month: Annie John- Jamaica Kincaid

 

Annie John is the coming-of-age story of a 10 year old Antiguan girl. It’s a quick read; the thoughts of a very curious young girl obsessed with death and slowly taking in all the nuances that surround her, who becomes a highly intelligent adolescent who is uninterested in most things.

Annie is very much attached to her mother but finds, with the onset of puberty, that things will never be the same again, and she becomes resentful. Annie goes from idolizing her mother to almost hating her.

This book was set in colonial Antigua and it’s obvious that Kincaid didn’t much care for the British colonizers. This sentiment is shown the strongest in the classroom, where the teachers teach the Caribbean children from a British curriculum. As I was reading this, I remembered a verse in an African-Canadian poem that I had read recently:

“I read a thousand voices
None of them speak to me
Not one of them speak of me.” -Wayne Salmon, Curriculum

I found Annie to be an unlikeable character. She went from being a precocious, endearing child to one who thought she was superior to everyone. I guess that might be the result of her becoming jaded with age as she witnesses the double standards about her, and is confused by the contradictions of her Christian faith and the traditional obeah practices her mother follows from time to time.I may have been a little too hard on Annie.

I think this book will resonate with a lot of people, it definitely took me back to my childhood at some points.

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4 thoughts on “Black History Month: Annie John- Jamaica Kincaid

  1. I wonder how Annie turning into someone who felt superior to everything relates to the effect Ngugi wa Thiong’o describes in Decolonising the Mind: colonial education separates a child’s intellectual life from their home context and they become alienated from their culture and sense of self…

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