Some critics have complained about the abruptness of the ending: the book doesn't tie everything up in a nice, neat bow at the end. The eighth and final chapter ends with Annie boarding a ship that will eventually take her to England to study nursing.
Annie admits that she isn't crazy about nursing, but she just wants to burn rubber to get away from her room, her father, her mother, the permanent island sunshine… basically life as she has known it up until age seventeen.
On the ship, Annie exchanges elaborate goodbyes with her parents and her mother holds her close in an embrace and says:
"It doesn't matter what you do or where you go, I'll always be your mother and this will always be your home." (8.19)
So sweet. But wait, there's more. Annie completely undoes the sentiment of this moment; in the next paragraph she and her mother "looked at each other for a long time with smiles on our face, but I know the opposite of that was in my heart" (8.20). The ambiguity that pervades throughout Annie John rears its ugly head once again. What's the deal? Does Annie hate her mother? Does she love her? Is Annie just a spoiled brat?
This ending provokes questions, rather than giving us answers. In a way, it succeeds in prolonging the story for us, forcing us to wonder "What was that all about" long after we've put our copy of Annie John back on the shelf.