Friday, July 22, 2011

BOOK: Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Annabel by Kathleen Winter, 460 pages

Orange July (shortlist 2011); Canadian Book Challenge 5

In 1968, a baby is born in a small town in Labrador. Only his parents and the midwife realize that the child is born with both male and female sex organs. Annabel follows the life of Wayne as he grows. Don't expect a story like Middlesex, if you've already read that book. Annabel is more about fitting in, being comfortable with who you are, whatever that might be, and the delicate balance within a family of parental love.

Winter writes a beautiful, slow story. Wayne, his parents and the midwife are all characters the reader gets to know and hope for. There is less about the male/female than you would expect; it's there, but not so much from Wayne's thoughts. Labarador is a huge character and I was pleased to get to know it as I doubt I'll ever get to visit. Wonderful book overall!

I was born in 1967, so I knew I would be able to culturally relate to Wayne throughout his life. All the song references seemed spot on for me. (Those high school years are such a noticeable signpost. For example, it was September 1984 that MuchMusic debuted because it was the weekend before school started in grade twelve and we stayed up all weekend watching videos.) There was a reference to a Subway store in St John's after Wayne graduated from high school, which struck me as odd. I was well into university before Subway started becoming popular, which is late 80s. I did a little research and it turns out that the first Subway restaurant in Canada was in Newfoundland in 1986, the year Wayne graduated high school.  Well done!

some other reviews:  bellistra magazine discussion; geranium cat at geranium cat's bookshelf; jules at jules book review; buried in print; jackie at farmlanebooks; amy at amymackiereads;