Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Y by Marjorie Celona
It's the story of a newborn baby, abandoned at a YMCA on Vancouver island. Her name is Shannon, and her story alternates with that of her mother, a young and desperate woman named Yula, describing the events that lead up to her abandoning Shannon.
Although Shannon's life begins in a harsh and shocking way, after several years in fostercare she finally ends up in a home with Miranda and her daughter, Lydia-Rose, who is the same age as Shannon. But even as she has her first twisted taste of what a real family feels like, there is a hole in Shannon. There is always, the question– why?
Shannon wants to know the truth about her mother, and so does the reader. But Celona reveals it in a slow and tantalizing way, sharing the details so that by the time Y is finished you've learned more about the characters than you ever realized you were. More about life.
Y is a delicate and vivid story, the words flow easily and the characters are complicated and human. Often, when a story is divided into two time periods there will be some abruptness to the transition between chapters, but not with Celona's writing. There's also usually a preferred storyline– and if I had to choose, it would probably be Yula's, but I was nearly as eager to read about Shannon's self-discovery. I suppose the attraction of Yula's storyline was how instantly shocking it was, it is so hard to imagine a situation where a mother would abandon their baby like she does, and yet Celona tells that story in a genuine and touching way.
This is a novel that asks a lot of questions. Questions about what makes a person who they are, and what a home is. It does so in an unconventional way, that reminded me a little of another book I loved, Wrecker by Summer Wood. Y also offers its own unique and intriguing setting, and it was interesting to see how the island environment offered a hint of claustrophobia to Shannon's life.
Ultimately, Y is a dark and realistic novel, a compelling story from a talented and eloquent author that left me excited to see what Marjorie Celona will write next.
Release Date: August 28th 2012 Pages: 288 Format: ARC
Source: Publisher Publisher: Penguin Canada Buy It: Book Depository