Ash’s writing style is mechanical and shows character’s personality
“The Annie Year” is a snarky fictional book about the small town life and its politics and about how one extraordinary woman in her thirties learns to come to terms with who she is.
It is a book written last year by Stephanie Ash, a talented writer who is married to our beloved MSU English Professor Geoff Herbach.
I finally was able to tackle reading the book over winter break and was glad I made it one of my few choices for the limited time I had.
The writing sounds mechanical but it is in such a way that it reflects the personality and profession of Tandy Caide, who is a CPA. Caide attends plays in her small town as a break from her own boring life with a lazy and fat husband who spends most of his time eating.
The irony resides in how Caide also acquired her position as CPA, which her father did before he died.
As you keep reading the book, you realize how funny it is because we who have grown up in small towns, can think of someone who has similar quirks as the characters.
But you also begin to become aware that even though it pokes fun at real-life people, “The Annie Year” runs on a theme that questions what settling in life means.
And it is easy, especially if you have grown up in a small town like the fictional one Ash writes about, to do everything in your power not to offend your neighbors.
In a small town, you cannot express yourself with how special you believe you are. You either choose to be who you are or you succumb to everyone else’s whims so that you fit in.
I thoroughly enjoy how “The Annie Year” sheds light on that subject. Like Caide, the plot takes its own twists and turns, including a minor character named Hope.
Hope, as implied, is an irony of what happens in her situation. She grew up without a father but with her mom, Barb, who is Caide’s former best friend. Yet a light shines the way for Hope who becomes valedictorian and has a chance to change her life and attend college.
But the plot shifts and nobody knows what is going on with Hope until she confides in Caide, which places Caide in a worse situation with Barb.
By the conclusion of the book, while not all their lives are resolved, the characters arrive at a better place than they were in the beginning.
That’s what I most appreciated about “The Annie Year,” in how real and authentic it was because of its relatability.
The other irony lies in Caide, whose unspoken job is to be as honest as possible with others’ money and she has accountabilities she must own up to.
Small towns in general focus on what they want to believe about themselves and other people. It sticks them into illusions and once people are presented with the truth, they do not like it.
But all of us are human in that way. None of us do if we are honest. In the short time, a writer has to fulfill expectations, Ash succeeds in how she presents such human flaws and by the end of the book, you understand better what it means to have humility.