The Annie Year
Tall, trusted Tandy Caide, CPA, is a long-time patron of the arts in her town, which is why you will find her sitting in the front row of the high school’s annual musical production.
This year is an Annie year—and it would be no different than other years were it not for the high school’s hiring of a new vocational agriculture (Vo-Ag) teacher. With his beguiling ponytail and decorative beaded belt, Kenny catches Tandy’s eye immediately. Ignoring the fact of her slovenly husband—who takes most of his meals in their hot tub—Tandy decides to entertain Kenny’s advances.
Trusted community pillar that she is, Tandy’s affair has instant repercussions. People are talking and her husband’s subsequent breakdown and check-in to a mental institution doesn’t help. At her regular meeting with the Order of the Pessimists—comprised of her deceased father’s disgruntled and drunken best friends—she is asked to step down as treasurer. Not only that, but her old lover is keeping a secret somehow connected to the Vo-Ag teacher. And meth labs—fueled by the abundance of fertilizer present in the region—keep blowing up. Somehow, it is all connected to Tandy’s ex-bestfriend’s daughter—the star of this year’s Annie. As Tandy pieces together the puzzle that has become her life, it becomes clear she must embark on a journey of self-discovery that might even include leaving town for good.
Praise for The Annie Year
"THE ANNIE YEAR is addicting and swiftly pulls you in to Tandy’s need for disruption in her small town life. Tandy makes many questionable decisions, and Stephanie Ash shows that they are often a necessary part of being alive. Funny and full of keen observations, I loved reading THE ANNIE YEAR much the same way I love reading Judy Blume, James Cain, Tom Drury, and John Irving, other writers with the gift of being able to get us inside a character's motivation. Ash has created a flawed character, not without judgment, yet we stick with her and root for her, as we should for ourselves."
—Steve Salardino, Skylight Books
"Stephanie Ash's THE ANNIE YEAR is an incredible debut—hilarious and insightful and energetic. Ash sassily mines the dark humor of Midwestern life with utter confidence and creates buoyant and indelible characters who will stick in your heart and mind forever and ever."
—John Jodzio, Author of KNOCKOUT
"'The people in this town will try to tell you that'. . . So THE ANNIE YEAR begins with its small-town Greek chorus. Meanwhile, Tandy Caide, sardonic CPA and pathological people-pleaser, enters the year of her reckoning, the year she starts making her own moral ledger. Like the mythological Annie—you know, the one who sings 'It’s a Hard Knock Life' but also 'Tomorrow'—Tandy has spunky charm and believable innocence. I read this mordantly funny book in one sitting, it's a fine novel with a main character you’ll miss once you’ve finished."
—Debra Monroe, author of MY UNSENTIMENTAL EDUCATION
"Stephanie Ash's completely original comic novel is a caustic, gimlet-eyed, cry from the heart for small town America and a very funny look at big desires in a small place."
—Mark Haskell Smith, author of RAW: A LOVE STORY
"This is a keeper, a fresh and quirky 'Main Street' for the Midwest... Stephanie Ash writes with a wry smile and an obvious adoration of Iowa small-town life. Its faux-preachy tone keeps us — snooty types from the big cities along the river — at arm's length while Ash's character embraces her imperfect corner of the world. It's a bold first novel by Ash."
—Ginny Greene, The Star Tribune
"Tandy’s voice is intriguingly and deceptively complex, leading readers to glimpse the longing beneath her professional veneer. Simultaneously a character study and an exploration about the personal costs of living in a dwindling farming town increasingly marred by meth abuse, Tandy’s story finally offers bittersweet, hard-won hope."
"Set against a backdrop of Iowa farm life and a burgeoning meth industry, The Annie Year bring to life a warm and wonderful cast of curmudgeonly characters and proves that friendship can save your life. Stephanie Ash makes a huge splash with this debut novel. The Annie Year needs to be on everyone's 2016 reading list."
—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books
"Stephanie Ash has the voice. Ash's story is to the Midwest like what Larry McMurtry does with Texas and Carolyn Chute with rural Maine."
—David Unowsky, Subtext Books
"Minnesota writer Stephanie Wilbur Ash's new novel THE ANNIE YEAR is a fierce hymn to small Midwestern towns, and the women who live there. "
—Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio
"The plot is engaging enough on its own, what makes this debut stand out is the remarkable narrator... She is intricate and endlessly fascinating, with jokes dry enough to go unnoticed, but sharp enough to ensure they never do."
—Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore
"THE ANNIE YEAR is an ambitious debut that offers sharp characterizations of both its protagonist and small towns."
—Heather Scott Partington, Electric Literature