AFTER ANNIE by Anna Quindlen

After Annie by Anna Quindlen tracks the first year after the sudden death of Annie, a married mother of four, through the eyes of her adolescent daughter Ali, her best friend Annemarie and her husband Bill. Through their thoughts and memories, Quindlen fills in a portrait of Annie as a wife, mother and friend, and explores the pain and timelines of grief.

Why I picked it up: I’ve never read any Anna Quindlen novels before, and have always wanted to. This one seemed pretty appealing.

After Annie is heavy on character and pretty light on plot, so those who prefer a lot of forward motion might be frustrated by Quindlen’s reverse looping to fill in the three central relationships in the book. Within each chapter, she touches on each storyline, exploring Annie and Annemarie’s friendship through Annemarie’s struggles with addiction, Ali’s loneliness as the new de facto parent in the house, and Bill’s deep sense of loss without his wife. She does a nice job describing grief and how it evolves and changes over time. Her writing is smooth and easy, and the book flows nicely. I liked seeing how the three characters recovered and moved forward despite the huge void Annie’s death left for them. I especially appreciated Quindlen’s use of detail, how small objects or descriptions of furniture or clothes, for example, were memorable and evocative in painting a picture of Annie.

I’m glad I read this one and would like to explore more of Quindlen’s books.

I listened to After Annie on audio. Narration by Gilli Messer was thoughtful and poignant and I would recommend the audiobook if that’s your preferred method of reading.

After Annie was the 10th book of 2024.