Book Review: The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen is Katherine Howe’s latest book encompassing New York City’s romantic and tragic history. It follows the story of two teenagers maneuvering through tough relationships in their struggle to find themselves.

Wes is an awkward 19 year old boy from Madison, Wisconsin attending NYU’s summer film program. His one and only desire is to be able to transfer from his mid-western school to be able to attend Tisch and pursue his dream of making documentary films. At one point in the story Wes says, “I want to live New York City. Not live in it, but live it. I want to be alive. Right here, right now.”


Annie Van Sinderen is a 17 year old girl who’s lived her whole life in New York City. She comes from a very old fashioned and privileged home. Her family has strong political influence in New York City and Annie struggles with her parents’ beliefs. She also has a boyfriend, Hershel, who is an Orthodox Jew; neither of their families would ever except their relationship.

When Wes and Annie meet it’s as if there is a magical connection that neither of them can explain, but somehow they need each other, because something is very wrong with Annie’s life and she really needs to figure out what’s happening and it seems like only Wes can help.

This novel has dynamic secondary characters to give us comedic relief. Eastlin is Wes’ gay fashionista roommate who really means well when he constantly teases Wes about his non-exsistent sex life. Tyler is a fellow film student who has recruited Wes to be his assistant on his artsy film showing people in transcendent states. And then there is Maddie, a young girl who’s mostly homeless and her motto is “Fregan, vegan unless it’s free.”

The story showcases the best and worst of New York City’s history from around 1825 to the present day; in fact Katherine Howe’s descriptions of the city past and present make for powerful connections to the characters. There are plot twists that keep you at the edge of your seat and surprises that keep you turning the page. This is also a beautiful love story that transcends time, making this novel a real classic. If you want to know the secrets behind The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen, you need to read the book.

Written by Debbie Farber


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