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Without Annette by Jane B Mason

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A gorgeously written, witty, and poignant YA novel, about a girl who must forge her own path in the wake of a crumbling relationship. 

Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood's picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive.

While Josie struggles to navigate her new life, Annette seems to fit in perfectly. Yet that acceptance comes with more than a few strings. And consequently, Annette insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

At first, Josie agrees. But as Annette pushes her further and further away, Josie grows closer to Penn, a boy whose friendship and romantic feelings for her tangle her already-unraveling relationship. When Annette's need for approval sets her on a devastating course for self-destruction, Josie isn't sure she can save her this time -- or if Annette even wants her to try.

Goodreads Summary

I loved the plot of this book without necessarily loving all of the characters.  Annette has an abusive mother and Josie wants to "save" her by taking her to a boarding school where they can enjoy the intimate relationship they both have together.  Except...none of this happens.  Once they get to the boarding school, Annette tries to blend in with the popular girls and largely ignores Josie except when she wants to make out with her.  Josie, on the other hand, is left to make friends with Penn (a boy she eventually may have feelings about and who likes her) and Roxanne (her roommate whose anti-establishment beliefs don't necessarily agree with her family).  

Josie's character was lovely.  I liked how she was protective of her girlfriend.  Although I thought she overdid the protective attitude; Annette eventually has to learn to deal with life herself.  Josie was smart, determined, and (as the book makes clear) authentic.  Roxanne turned out to be a great roommate and fun character with sardonic dialogue.  Penn disappointed me.  He turned into a great friend and possibly something more (?) in the end, but what occurred in the middle of the book was a huge turn-off.  I liked the private school air and austerity throughout the book (attended one myself!).  I thought the author wrote beautifully and her prose held my attention the entire novel.  Josie truly did develop as a character and as a person.  I wish Annette (who really annoyed me) developed like Josie.  I felt like she often used Josie and that there wasn't true depth to their relationship.  

4 Stars

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  1. Liviania said...:

    This sounds like a good contemporary, and I'm curious what Penn did to turn you off his character.