Red by Annie Cardi: A Book With A Great Hook (Book Review by Sydney Salter)

by Annie Cardi is a modern retelling of Nathanial Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter.  Great hook, right? Immediately the reader knows what to expect--a story about power imbalance and hypocrisy. 

Red tells the story from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant. The book opens with the main character Tess Pine (a nice nod to Hester Prynne) driving to an abortion clinic with her mother--the big red A, painted on a high school locker, is for abortion. I appreciated how well Cardi wrote about a controversial topic with nuance, thoughtfulness, and complexity making it an ideal mentor text for anyone writing about difficult topics.

The details about how Tess ended up making a difficult choice to end her pregnancy are told through carefully chosen flashbacks that build tension. The pacing of the flashbacks allows the reader to understand the characters almost as they begin to understand themselves. Big and small moments are shown in flashbacks--sometimes authors focus on the big events, ignoring the way small moments can be powerful too. The story told in the current timeline is one of personal growth, forgiveness, and dealing with the tough times in life. Cardi weaves the dual timelines together masterfully and crafts a satisfying ending.

Ideal readers: Mother-daughter book clubs, writers seeking a mentor text or comp title for a story about a controversial subject matter or dual timeline story. Anyone who hated reading the Scarlett Letter in high school will enjoy this updated version--it's a fast read with a great cast of characters. 

Highly recommended.


  1. Excellent book. I read it the day it came out and passed my copy on the the Waterville Public Library so others could enjoy it.


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