I’m going to try to make this negative review as condensed as possible, by my standards. I’ve written several other negative posts/reviews of it before elsewhere.
Annie’s Baby is yet another toxic book written (NOT edited) by the late fraud Beatrice Sparks. As awful as her books are, I think they’d be good required reading for anyone who wants to write YA, esp. contemporary or edgy. Each and every book is like a lesson in how NOT to write YA!
Fourteen-year-old Annie is as one-dimensional and stereotypical as all of “Dr.” Sparks’s other creations. It’s like she wanted us to define these teens by their problems, like Jay the Satanist, Alice the druggie, Nancy dying of AIDS, Kim with the eating disorder, Sammy the ex-gangbanger. There’s no depth in any of her characters.
So Annie meets 16-year-old Danny on the soccer field and immediately thinks they’re soulmates with some special, epic, magical love story for all time and eternity. (Yes, Sparks was a Mormon, and because I’ve studied a lot of religions, I recognize distinctively Mormon terminology and concepts she uses in each and every one of these books. Even the supposedly Catholic Nancy’s diary is full of Mormon language!) Oh, and did I mention Annie doesn’t even know his name before she decides they’re forever-soulmates? After only a few dates, she already thinks they’ve got a serious relationship.
It’s obvious from the jump that Danny is an abusive scumbag and player, yet Annie makes excuses for it, even after he rapes her at a party. She stages some ridiculous scene to make it look to her mother like she were hit by a car while jogging at night. Later Annie and Danny get back together, and she continues lovingly putting up with his domestic violence and rape. She gets birth control pills from a friend, yet there’s no description of how this came to be. Wouldn’t a real, normal teen journaler record such an important event in detail? And there’s no details of just how Danny is hurting her during sex. Is he being rough during the actual act, pinching her, squeezing her arms, what?
Moron Annie thinks it’s so hard to remember to take the Pill every day, so of course she gets knocked up. Her mom is amazingly loving, forgiving, and accepting, just like all the other parents in Sparks’s books. Annie, in spite of living in the 1990s, goes to an unwed mothers’ home. WTF? How many of these still exist, esp. under that title? Of course, Annie is vehemently anti-abortion and anti-welfare. The stereotyping of teen moms as welfare queens was so offensive and over the top. My parents were on welfare when I was born, and they were in their twenties. Welfare is a Godsend when you don’t have any means. Most people on welfare really aren’t cheating the system.
Annie has her baby at only 7 months, and of course, there are almost no details about her labor experience. Yes, because that’s something all new moms neglect to record in their journals, having a damn baby! The details aren’t special or important at all! The description that is given sounds suspiciously like twilight sleep, since she talks about zonking out from some drug she was given. Well, that would fit with the whole “unwed mothers’ home” storyline. Both straight out of the 1950s.
After only about two weeks, Annie and her namesake go home from hospital. Um, what? Wouldn’t the typical baby born at only 7 months be kept in hospital for much longer these days? It’s not the 1930s! Annie is the most selfish, whiny, negligent mother ever, even trying to ditch “Li’l Annie” out in public because she just can’t handle mothering. Sparks really thought all young, single moms were crap parents.
After a visit with her bishop (again with the Mormon language!), Annie decides to give her baby to a couple the bishop knows. Because in Sparks’s world, no single mom deserves to keep her baby. Adoption is always the answer. She was probably pissed that Roe v. Wade effectively put an end to the adoption mills and the baby snatch era.
The “counseling sessions” Annie has with her distant relative “Dr.” Sparks were also pure BS. Real people don’t express themselves that way. And Sparks clearly didn’t know the difference between abusive sexual behavior and consensual BDSM. Who the hell uses the word “sadist” to describe someone who sexually abuses his partner anymore? Oh, wait, I’m sure Dr. Fraud was also against BDSM relationships too.
Annie’s mom confronted Danny about his paternity, and she immediately backed down when he said he’d get all his buddies to claim they’d slept with her too. Um, this isn’t the 1950s! They could’ve taken him to court and gotten a DNA test! They could’ve even appeared on Maury, one of my guilty pleasures since 1999!
I didn’t believe this were a real journal for one damn moment, let alone written by a teen. Besides the constant Mormon references, I knew it was written by Sparks because of her trademarks like excessive exclamation points!!!!!!!!, FREQUENT USE OF ALL CAPS, and way too many italics, INCLUDING ITALICS IN ALL CAPS!!!!!!! The writing style in the author’s note and Q&A in the back are exactly like “Annie’s” writing style, right down to the anti-welfare rants. Yeah, I wonder! Oh, and Annie frequently talks to her journal, Daisy, like it’s a real person, even having back and forth conversations with it. Nutty.
This book was absolutely terrible. I’d recommend it to no one, unless you’d like a great example of how NOT to write YA.