Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney, 272 pp, RL 4

Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney

Seven things about this book
  1. Instead of keeping a diary, Annie makes lists.
  2. Annie is sure her family had to move from Brooklyn upstate to the small town of Clover Gap. 
  3. Annie thinks she caused this move by (accidentally) telling her principal she didn't live in her school district.
  4. Annie has an incredible memory but decides to hide it from the kids at her new school.
  5. Annie makes a new friend, Zora, but Zora's old friend, Amelia, is jealous.
  6. Annie's old friend, Millie, has stopped writing to her.
  7. Annie discovers a secret about her parents.

Annie's Life in Lists is truly a novel composed (almost entirely) of lists, written by fifth-grader, Annie. And it is totally engaging, fresh and a delight to read. I hung on to Mahoney's book for months, hoping I would get around to reviewing it, finally handing it over to the first of two fourth grade girls who read ravenously at the school where I am the librarian. When they both read it in days and returned it with glowing reviews (which for them means a big smile and, "It was really good.") I read it, as much for review here as to be able to talk to them about it.

Nine interesting list titles, among many
  1. Five things about my memory
  2. Four things other people say about my memory. 
  3. What I think of my memory
  4. Five every day objects that freak me out
  5. Two other things I have noticed during kickball games
  6. One thing I actually said to Ted
  7. Three things that were different about dinner that night
  8. One thing I should not have said
  9. Five people who started to jump to my defense
Annie and her older brother Ted live with their parents in an apartment in Brooklyn, where they lie about their address so that they can continue to go to school in the neighborhood they were priced out of years ago. When Annie accidentally reveals this to her principal, she assumes this is why her parents decide to move from the city to a small town. Her older brother Ted is furious about the move and her parents seems happy, if overwhelmed, by the responsibilities of maintaining a house and new jobs. Annie's new friend is one of the few black characters in the book - and the town - and this becomes part of the story that is handled very matter-of-factly and well. Mahoney is gifted in presenting the small moments that seem important and dramatic when you are eleven in a way that does not feel tedious at all. There is not a lot of suspense in Annie's Life Lists, but there is a lot of introspection, thoughtfulness, life experience and joy. And maybe even some inspiration. After all, Bullet Point Journals are hugely popular these days! Annie's Life Lists and a journal would make a fantastic gift!

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