Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review: Annabel: A Novel by Kathleen Winter

Great Writing Style and Intriguing Story

A baby is born in a remote village in Labrador attended by the women in the town. The baby is healthy but has both female and male characteristics. Only three people know about this discovery. . . the parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a close family friend  who serves as the midwife, Thomasina.

Jacinta does not know how to choose between raising the baby as a son or a daughter but Treadway makes the difficult choice on behalf of the whole family, to raise the baby as Wayne, a son. Living in a small town the three decide to make this decision a secret and pretend that nothing is different; not even Wayne knows the truth.

Difficult decisions need to be made which really were fascinating as they unfolded and the consequences that came from those choices that were made. A hermaphrodite is rare and the methods to decide which to pick the gender seemed obscure and non scientific. The reader watches on as the procedures are taken to make the baby a boy visually and the efforts to maintain this over the course of the years as Wayne grows. A mother mourns for the daughter she feels she may have lost. A father stoically teaches his child to be the son he needs to be to be successful in their hard way of life. There is a lesson that changing one's outer appearance does not really change who the person truly is and who they will become.

Living in the small remote town, the townsfolk have very defined roles by gender. The men spend months away on the trap lines and the women stay home and care for the family. Wayne is an anomaly that challenges the way that Treadway has perceived as his own existence.

This book was extremely enjoyable and while the subject matter may put off some folks I have to say it was a wonderful story and written so well. The author has a really nice writing style, it's lyrical but very basic, no extra words, a real direct tone.

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