cover image The Annie Year

The Annie Year

Stephanie Wilbur Ash. Unnamed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (246p) ISBN 978-1-939419-96-5

A lonely accountant waffles between pessimism and hope in this quirky debut. Now in her early 40s, Tandy Caide has spent virtually her whole life in the same rural Iowa town, with the exception of a brief stint at college in comparatively cosmopolitan Dubuque. She is the town’s only CPA, a responsibility she takes very seriously, and she seeks out sophistication where she can find it, by attending the high school’s drama productions and enjoying a fine cup of coffee at the local diner. But when the exotic new vocational agriculture teacher expresses an interest in her, Tandy is sorely tempted to risk not only her loveless marriage but even her professional reputation for an opportunity to escape to a different life. Occasionally lapsing into a second-person narration, 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. (Oct.)