A 1982 novel by Nancy Garden.
Liza Winthrop, 17, first meets Annie Kenyon, also 17, at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, where she's gone to work on an assignment. Both Liza and Annie are avid museum browsers. Both love medieval lore and history and both have a flare for the dramatic. They are instantly drawn to each other, and their friendship grows quickly and deeply.
Liza attends an exclusive prep school, Annie a public high school in a working class area where she lives with her Italian immigrant family. Liza is student body president and a much respected leader. As the relationship deepens, both girls begin to realize with some trepidation that there's a dimension to it they didn't expect. Annie realizes before Liza that their attraction is sexual as well as spiritual. Liza finds she has some hard thinking and reading to do about homosexuality.
Their relationship becomes public in a traumatic way when, housesitting for two teachers at Liza's school (who, they discover, are lesbians, though the fact has never been made public) they are discovered by a punitive administrator who dismisses the two teachers and threatens Liza with expulsion. She is reinstated by the board of trustees, but emotional stress with peers and family remain to be worked out.
Ultimately, she finds she can let go of friendships that falter on this issue, and her family supports her, though her parents have to work through their own ambivalence. Annie goes to Berkeley, Liza to MIT, and after some months of silence, they resume contact with hope of reviving a relationship they still cherish, perhaps the more for the lessons it's brought with it.
This book is notable for being the first novel in existence to paint lesbians in a positive light - where they weren't cured
, the enemy, or killed
. This was... controversial, to say the least; it made the list of most frequently banned books for the next three decades, and it was at one point publicly burnt
in Kansas City. Nevertheless, it continues to influence modern LGBT authors, and it's still somewhat popular.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Subverted. Liza's School Motto actually is "students shall rule themselves" but during the story Mrs. Poindexter tells the student council what to do. It is suggested that Ms. Stevenson, the student council's advisor, is the only reason students have any say in things.
- Affectionate Nickname: "Unicorn" for Annie.
- Brainy Brunette: Liza
- Butch Lesbian: Discussed and averted.
- Closet Key: Annie and Liza for each other.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Annie at first.
- Coming-Out Story
- Cool Big Sis: Liza to Chad.
- Cure Your Gays: Mrs. Poindexter and Ms. Baxter seemed set on doing this. Needless to say, it doesn't work.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: And my GOD, do they have to earn it.
- Gay Aesop
- Gayngst: Granted, it's not exactly unwarranted, considering all the shit the girls (especially Liza) go through.
- Genki Girl: Annie
- Headbutt of Love: Liza and Annie on some of the editions of the cover.
- How We Got Here Most of the story is just Liza remembering her relationship with Annie from her point of view.
- Innocently Insensitive: Sally at the end.
- Meet Cute: They meet when Liza finds Annie singing in a corner of the Metropolitan. Annie then convinces Liza to act out a swordfight in the Arms and Armor hall. They own this trope.
- Moment Killer: A couple when Annie and Liza are about to get a bit more intimate. Sometimes, they bring it on themselves on purpose.
- Nobody Over Fifty Is Gay: Subverted—the main characters are seventeen, but two of Liza's female teachers, who we can assume are in their late forties or early fifties, are in a relationship.
- Oblivious to Love: Liza reveals that she suspects she had some lesbian tendencies before discovering she was a lesbian, but she just never stopped to thing about them until after kissing Annie for the first time.
- Official Couple: Who else but Annie and Liza?
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The Trustee board. They openly stop every attempt from Ms. Baxter and Mrs. Poindexter of disrespecting Liza during the hearing at the end of the story.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Liza's parents think her friendship with Annie is this.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians
- Secret Relationship: Liza and Annie do this for awhile. It becomes public at the worst possible moment.
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: The first half, with the building relationship.
- Their First Time
- They Do: ...eventually. Word Of God says they remain together after the story ends.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: For the first third or so.