Anne


Young Adult - Coming of Age
267 Pages
Reviewed on 02/04/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Zarina Macha is an author, blogger and musician born and raised in London, UK. She studied Songwriting and Creative Artistry at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. She regularly writes a social comment blog titled 'The Zarina Macha Blog.' In her spare time she loves reading and fan-girling over Game of Thrones.

In 2018 she began independently publishing her books through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. "Every Last Psycho" and "Anne" are her young-adult fiction novels that deal with mental illness, drug abuse, domestic violence and coming-of-age. "Art is a Waste of Time" and "Single Broke Female" are her two poetry books.

"Around Midnight" is her fifth self-published work. It is a young-adult drama about jazz, ambition, and a toxic relationship.

For more information about her please visit www.zarinamacha.co.uk.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Anne by Zarina Macha is one of the best coming of age stories for young adults that I’ve read. Why? Because it addresses so many of the topics currently of major interest and importance to teens, i.e. gender issues and concerns about opening up to family and friends, peer bullying, cutting, suicide and resorting to alcohol and drugs when other solutions to psychological stress aren’t available or aren’t working. Best of all, since the author herself is barely out of her teens, her writing style easily captures the attention of young teens: they will readily identify with the people, venues, and situations in which Anne, the protagonist, her room-mate Simone, and her bubbly cousin Zoe find themselves. And while teen readers from North America and Europe most likely won’t be familiar with the places and locations in this British-based novel, that is irrelevant in light of the all-important content.

The plot is simple enough: Anne’s mom is being abused by her father. One night, her mom simply disappears. Her father’s explanation is that her mother just up and left. Feeling abandoned, Anne’s situation is worsened by her father’s drinking problem. When he sends her off to live with his sister, the home-schooled Anne finds love and friendship in her aunt’s family and eventually decides to attend a regular school where she becomes good friends with a gay male classmate whose positive influence helps her cope with her own attraction to a female student. However, when Anne, who is an advanced student, falls prey to the school bullies, her aunt agrees to let her attend a boarding school where ultimately she thrives, despite suffering heartache.

Does Anne ever find out what happened to her mother? Is there any chance her violent father murdered his wife? And does she ever reunite with her father? Those are questions that will further intrigue readers of Anne. I couldn’t read this book without recognizing members of my own family in its pages, especially my 17-year-old granddaughter. While she isn’t the most avid reader, I know she would not be able to put it down because so much of what she has shared with me about herself, her own friends, and her often confused feelings on all the issues explored in this novel are such a major part of her life right now. So I can only say thank you to Zarina Macha for writing Anne. What a great start to your writing career.

Lynn James

Anne had me gripped from the moment I started to read it. It opens with a shocking but real life story. I was immediately rooting for Anne to have a good life and keen to see how it unfolded.

Aimed at young adults, it follows the story of Anne through her teenage years. Exactly the type of book I would have loved to read as a younger teenager.

A brilliant third self-published book from Zarina Macha is beautifully written. The craft is exquisite and I know she is destined for bigger things, publishing deals, works in the written press.

Highly recommended

Joey Paul

I picked this up as it caught my eye and the blurb sounded very interesting. It pulled me in from the first page, going back through Anne's short life, the trouble she'd faced and the way her life had changed. I adored the character, the way she stood up for herself even when presented with difficult choices, and the way she stayed true to herself. Beautifully written and heartbreaking in places, an amazing story and one that touches very much on mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself and others. I very much recommend it!

MA Thomas

So I'll admit that diary style books and books about teens navigating adolescence are a favourite of mine in the book pool and this is now on my to recommend list. I work in mental health and any book that addresses this or is diversity inclusive will always be a special read to me . Anne was an easy character to like, I related to her struggles with being just a tad apart from her peer group so from the perspective of character development Zarina has done a beautiful job with Anne. I liked the ending, but not everyone will. I certainly didn't predict how this would play out and that is so RARE for me, I can usually pick the plot, so to speak, by at least a quarter of the way through. Not this book! I hope you will give this work your consideration, it won't disappoint.

Petrina Binney

Well, what a brilliant novel. The story follows Anne from a childhood with her devoted if terrified mother and alcoholic and abusive father, through to an adolescence of disconnection, relocation, and a whole new life.

I thought the titular character was well-drawn and likeable. True, she comes from a difficult background, but she’s more survivor than victim. It is fine line to tread but Ms Macha does so very successfully. The relationships between the characters are solid and beautifully conveyed.
I really felt for the lead character. I found the mother’s story very powerful and, its conclusion caught my breath.

I liked the use of contemporaneous news, general elections, new films, etc. I felt this helped to root the story to its time very effectively.

Occasionally, I struggled to keep track of all the characters, especially in dialogue-heavy scenes, but that’s probably my age showing. All in all, a very well-written novel. I enjoyed it a lot.
It is worth noting that there are difficult themes in ‘Anne', including many of the truly heart-rending problems that an adolescent faces, as well as violence within the family home. That said, I enjoyed the writing, and I really look forward to reading this novel again.

Whispering Stories Blog

To the outside world, Anne Mason’s life looks ideal. Her father is wealthy and her mother is loving. But behind closed doors, her father is a bully. He’s an abusive husband as well as an alcoholic.

Anne is home-schooled because her father wants to have as much control over her as he can. Learning and knowledge soon become her saviour.

One night after years of abuse her father comes home telling her that her mother has left. He places Anne in the care of his sister, her husband, and their children. There she does find some happiness, but the past keeps coming back to haunt her, especially when she is sent to boarding school.

Her ordeal is relieved through the help of a therapist. As she assesses her past you get to witness everything the young Anne endured at the hands of her father and what impact that has had on her young adult life.

Anne is a highly emotional book that will make you understand what it is like to live with an abusive parent. Young Anne is a lovely, sweet girl who didn’t ask to be brought into a world of torture and pain at the hands of someone who should have been there to protect her. Her mother did all she could to isolate her daughter from her father and take the brunt force of his temper but no matter how hard she tried she never fully succeeded.

The book deals with some difficult issues in an accessible way and it is written is a sort of diary/journal style. It will have you reaching for the tissues on more than one occasion as some scenes will have your heart-breaking. I was a little surprised by the ending but can fully understand why the author chose to end the book that way she did.

It was a hard read at times and I wouldn’t choose to read it again, however, it was a decent, slow-paced read with characters that get under your skin and the main character you will take into your heart.

C.M. Fritzen

Zarina Macha is a YA author from the UK. She has published, before Anne, a compilation of two Novellas called Every Last Psycho and a poetry collection called Art is a Waste of Time. I have now had the pleasure of reading all of her published or to be published works. Macha writes stories about teenagers who are in the midst of dealing with issues teenagers do but should never have to. Macha does this with tact and sensitivity, walking readers through the emotional impacts of her character’s choices.

Anne was written as if the main character was writing a journal the readers were allowed access to. The beginning focuses on Anne’s parents’ relationship and the reader sees a child surrounded by violence. Anne’s mother tries to insulate her from the worst, but Anne sees and hears much of what her father does to her mother. Her parents decide to homeschool Anne because her father wants to have as much control over Anne’s education as he can. This changes how Anne experiences school and learning and effects her later in the narrative. Macha reveals several twists about Anne and her parents throughout the book that I do not want to spoil but will say that some took turns I expected and some left me wanting to know more.

All in all, I found the book entertaining and well written. I enjoyed the references Macha made to Narnia (one of my favorite book series growing up) and to high school films such as Mean Girls. In some ways, the conflicts between Anne’s friend group and the “popular” seem derivative, however as I read further, the differences between most high school stories and Anne grew larger. I would definitely recommend this book to any who enjoy stories about high schoolers dealing with real-world problems and anyone who is looking for more LGBT representation in their books.

Night Reader

You know about Anne. You will find out about Anne. I want to talk about Zarina's writing style and how easily I was invested in the story of Anne. There are several layers of every character. There are several questions that the book puts in your mind because of the descriptive and detailed writing of Zarina Macha. I am thankful to her for letting me review her book. The book is a treat for those who know grief,like to know about people's struggles and have encountered the term "others" in their life. Very fulfilling. One of those reads that touch my soul.

W. Cooper

This Coming to Age book conveys many social and personal issues that the readers can identify with in the story of a girl trying to find her way through all she is faced with. The writer does an excellent job focusing on her genre and getting their attention in the well written and easy to follow portrayal of her young life. I would recommend it to a 15+ audience as well as adults.

-To The Author- To affect one reader is success and I believe you have achieved that.

Lloyd Dwaah

A great read.

Innocent, raw, real and intense.

Thoroughly enjoyed every chapter, the author narrates brilliantly the story of a young lady who is constantly battling with her own demons and traumas she has faced at such a young age. Through getting to know Anne as the novel unfolded, we see how those traumas have impacted how she lives her life and the decisions she makes. Zarina illustrates this by remarkably showing that Anne being brought up in a broken home has affected her judgement’s and decisions she chooses to make. Can’t wait for Zarina’s future works!

Steph Warren

As an adult, I was surprised how much I had forgotten about the pressures and emotional strain of adolescence, until Anne brought it all flooding back to me.

The story starts with a teen / young adult Anne deciding whether or not to trust her therapist with what is troubling her, then is told in one long flashback of her recount to him. She begins with the traumatic events of her early childhood, and then takes us through the intervening years, detailing how she coped with the family estrangements, new friendships and budding romances.

Zarina Macha covers a wealth of huge and serious issues as Anne’s story unfolds. We start with domestic abuse, child abuse and addiction issues, and move through various mental health issues, self-harm, pressures related to race and sexuality, bullying and ostracism, underage sex, peer pressure, rape and suicidal thoughts. Listing these out makes it seem like this is an extreme story, but sadly that is not the case, and I have seen some of the events Anne describes during my own (relatively sheltered) teen and young adult years, although thankfully not in my own experiences.

One of the ways in which the author firmly roots her novel in the current and the real world is by referring to world events and popular culture. Talk of the Rainbow Fairies series, One Direction, Narnia and Mean Girls mingles with discussion of the Charlie Hebdo attack and Brexit to give a firm sense of the here-and-now. This also brings home how very possible the events in the book are with sobering effect.

Anne handled the events and situations in the story so maturely throughout that she seemed more of an adult than the adults around her, and I was continually surprised by her age in the text. In fact, most of the teenagers felt and acted more like my experience of older teens/young adults, although this could very well be down to the adult experiences they have to survive and process.

Anne is a great story for teens, about serious issues. The peer pressure elements in particular will likely resonate with many, along with the identity exploration. For adults the story is an eye-opening insight (or reminder) of the pressures young people face and how intense and all-consuming they feel. Something worth remembering when we are older and more world-weary.