“My life begins at the Y…” so starts Shannon’s story, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the local YMCA. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon longs to uncover her roots. Where is she from? Who is her mother? And why would she abandon Shannon on the day she was born?
The answers lie in the heartbreaking tale of her mother’s family, and their flawed and desperate fate. Through Marjorie Celona’s intimate observations and quirky wit, present and past converge to shape a unique and lasting story of identity and inheritance. A novel that asks us to consider the “why” of our lives, even as it reveals that the answer isn’t always clear.
**Received ARC from Penguin Group Canada for review**
Prior to being invited to review Marjorie Celona's debut novel Y I knew very little about it. However, when I did learn more about the novel and what it was about I was very eager to read it. The synopsis had me thinking of Heather O`Neill`s Lullabies for Little Criminals. They are both stories about children who have lived less then stable lives. In saying that, I could not help but compare Y to Lullabies while reading it. Which wasn`t necessarily fair. They are two different novels telling two very different stories.
Let me say this. Marjorie Celona is a beautiful writer and I cannot wait to read more from her and to see how she matures as an author. Celona created an intense story with Y, one that gets readers examining the decisions of parents and the impact they have on their children. Y also does more than that, it encouraged readers to examine their definition of family.
What I found the most interesting about Y was the way it was told. The story is Shannon`s narrative and she tells the whole story. She not only tells the story from her perspective and her birth mother's- Yula. She also tells the story from all her ages. It's Shannon voice we `hear` when she`s a few hours old, when she`s five and when she`s sixteen. It`s incredibly eerie and fascinating at the same time. I really liked that Shannon got to tell the story. What I didn't like about this aspect of the novel was how unbelievable the intense feelings Shannon and Yula were supposed to be experiencing. I cringe when I say this knowing that so many readers are not going to agree with me.
Let me explain.
When Shannon was describing her feelings in the earlier portion of the novel, when she was a child I was enthralled. I could not put the book down. I thought this child who was experiencing so much but couldn't explain what it was she was feeling was heart breaking and I thought it was a brilliant move on Celona's part. However I was expecting this is change and mature as Shannon got older, but it didn't and the confusion that Shannon continued to experience was hard for me believe. I could not understand why Shannon could not accept the family she was given, I could not understand why she had this intense need to find her birth mother. It felt empty, flat.
In saying all this, I really enjoyed this novel. It was beautifully told and Celona did a magical thing with it. She told a story that was not easy to tell and tackled subjects that can't be easy to write about and she did it, albeit there were some holes, don't let them keep you from reading Y. Because it was wonderful!
I want to thank Penguin Canada for including me in this blog tour.
~Happy Reading Everyone!