Annie John
Jamaica Kincaid

Book cover image

Narrated By: Robin Miles

Duration: 4 hours and 20 minutes

What to expect

Jamaica Kincaid presents a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua.

An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence at the very center of the little girl’s existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother’s benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, “It was in such a paradise that I lived.” When she turns twelve, however, Annie’s life changes in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority; and most frighteningly, her mother, seeing Annie as a “young lady,” ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary.

At the end of her school years, Annie decides to leave Antigua and her family, but not without a measure of sorrow, especially for the mother she once knew and never ceases to mourn. “For I could not be sure,” she reflects, “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.”

A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Annie John focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood. Annie’s voice―urgent, demanding to be heard―is one that will not soon be forgotten.

Genre

Fiction: general and literary

Listen to a sample

“So touching and familiar it could be happening…to any of us…And that’s exactly the book’s strength, its wisdom, and its truth.”

New York Times Book Review

“So neon-bright that the traditional story of a young girl’s passage into adolescence takes on a shimmering strangeness.”

Los Angeles Times

“A magical coming-of-age tale, ripe with the special ambience of its tropical setting and sustained by Annie’s far from naïve awareness of the world around her.

Booklist (starred review)

“Rarely does a writer move as surely forward as Kincaid does in this plain, sharp, affecting first novel…truly capturing the agonizing give-and-take of parent/child love that goes delicately, yet irrevocably, awry.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Robin Miles’s expert narration truly brings out the best in Jamaica Kincaid’s tender account of a girl’s childhood in Antigua. Miles’s performance savors the tastes and smells of the novel’s Caribbean setting—a great strength of Kincaid’s writing—and re-creates the excitement, innocence, and sorrows of childhood with grace and skill…Miles shapes this production into a vibrant and compelling listening experience.”