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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of After Annie by Anna Quindlen

Young mom Annie's abrupt death leaves her four children, husband, and best friend reeling. Each of them must find a way back to themselves and back to each other without their key person in After Annie.


In Anna Quindlen's newest novel After Annie, the abrupt death of the titular young mother--which occurs in the kitchen in front of the family just before dinner--leaves her four children, husband, and best friend reeling.

Annie was in her early 30s, and she hadn't even been close to finishing what she'd started. She had a job she excelled at, offering care and steadiness at the nursing home; she and her dear lifelong best friend Annemarie (two Annes!) had been through the upheaval and crises of young pregnancy, addiction, and following different paths and struggling to stick together; and she and her husband Bill were in the thick of young parenthood, with endless plans but little money or time to enact any of them yet.

Over the course of the next year, each of those who had been closest to her and who are left behind struggles and threatens to fall apart--both individually and also to collectively fall away from each other in a way that would have infuriated Annie.

The thing that saves each of them from bottomless grief and from giving in to their most desperate, despairing, hopeless impulses is Annie's frequent voice in their heads, reassuring them, loving them, sticking by them.

It was unsatisfying to see only glimpses of the pivotal figure of Annie--I found myself wanting more of these. She makes up the heart of the book and is the center of the wheel of characters rotating around her, yet little page time is spent with her directly because she dies so early in the novel.

We spend the most page time with Annie's oldest child and only daughter, Ali, as she navigates young adulthood; with widower Bill, who belatedly recognizes his parenting and household ineptitude and also falls into the arms of the local woman who was after him in high school; and with best friend Annemarie, who is professionally successful and married but has been deeply invested in Annie's family and home life since Annie and Bill married. Annemarie realizes how essential Annie had been to her own sense of self and how lost she feels without her friend's guidance.

The key characters make mistakes and stumble repeatedly before finding their way back to their new selves and their existence without Annie.

I read After Annie courtesy of NetGalley and Random House.


Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you're interested in books about mortality, you might like the books on my Greedy Reading Lists Six Powerful Memoirs about Facing Mortality and Six More Powerful Books about Facing Mortality.



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