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February 27, 2024

After Annie by Anna Quindlen ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Anna Quindlen has been one of my favorite authors and I've read all of her books.  Her new book is one of her best.  She writes about family and secrets within a family that can negatively affect the entire family.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel After Annie by Anna Quindlen
February 2024; Random House; 978-0593229804
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); women's fiction

Annie Brown dies suddenly of a brain aneurysm.  She's young and leaves behind a loving husband, four children, and a best friend who relied on her to keep her away from her addictions.  This book looks at the first year after her death and how it affects her family and friends.  Ali is 13 and she has three younger brothers.  Her father can't cope with day-to-day life and Ali steps up and starts taking care of her brothers and even taking care of her father who is not handling life well.  Annie's best friend, Annemarie, had changed her life thanks to Annie's help but now she is heading back into her old addiction.  Everyone who knew and loved Annie is consumed with grief and her passing.

Annie died in Winter.  By spring, things haven't changed much.  Bill still depends on Ali to take care of the younger kids and keep the house running.  Bill is starting to get phone calls and cupcakes from single women in town but he still feels that he's married to Annie and not interested in other women. "Grief was like spring, maybe.  You thought that you were getting out from under it and then it came roaring back.  And getting out from under it felt like forgetting, and forgetting felt like treason." (loc 941)  By Autumn, life is still a mess.  Annemarie is back to living her life on pills and lying to doctors to get more pills.  She feels that without Annie, there is no way she can kick her addiction so why even try.  Bill is starting to get his life back together but still relies on Ali too much.  The boy closest in age to Ali is acting out and getting in trouble at school.  By winter, one year after Annie's death, Bill has started taking over the home and the kids and tells Ali that she no longer has to be the grown-up because he can handle things. Life has changed considerably for the family over the year since Annie died. There is a big hole in the family that Annie used to occupy but everyone has changed and they now feel that they can face the future together as a family.

I'll be honest - I wasn't sure that I could read this book.  My husband died last year and I was worried that a book about the death of a spouse would be a trigger for my personal grief.  Instead, I felt calm and hopeful by the end of the story as I reflected on the life that we had.   Everyone handles grief differently but the grief felt by Annie's husband and children is perfectly written.  One minute you are hopeful for the future and then a wave of grief hits you and you lose all of the ground that you've gained.  So yes, this is a sad story but more importantly it's about realizing that life will go on after a death and you need to work to make it your best life.  This is a story about how love and loss can splinter a family and that they have to work very hard to become a different family than what they were before the death.

Buy After Annie at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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