Author: Marjorie Celona
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Date Published: June 25th 2013 (first published August 1st 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback.
Source: From the publisher for an honest review
My life begins at the Y.
So begins the story of Shannon, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the YMCA. She is found moments later by a man who catches a mere glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. All three lives are forever changed by the single decision. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures neglect and abuse but then finds stability and love in the home of Miranda, a kind single mother who refuses to let anything ever go to waste. But as Shannon grows, so do the questions inside her. Where is she from? Who is her true family? Why would they abandon her on the day she was born? The answers lie in the heartbreaking tale of Yula, Shannon’s mother, a girl herself and one with a desperate fate. Eventually the two stories converge to shape an unforgettable story of family, identity and inheritance. Written with rare beauty, wisdom, and intimacy, Y is a novel that asks “why?” even as it reveals that the answer isn’t always clear and that it may not always matter
Number of Days It Took to Read: 2
Pretty cool cover, I think it really captures the theme of mystery, identity and abandonment in the book.
The Writing Score: 3 out of 5
Recommendation: Must Read
Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I’ve read many works of fiction that feature adoption but this one definitely stands out as being different from the rest, different in a mostly good way. The story is told from the perspective of “Shannon” who is abandoned as a baby on the steps of a YMCA. “Shannon” goes through various homes and names before she joins Miranda’s family. Even then she finds herself unsettled and the question of her birth mother looms over her like a dark cloud that won’t go away as she is continuously reminded by her sister and many other people from her adoptive family that Miranda is not her birth mother. This in itself is a very sad thing for a child to hear again and again. Still even before that one could really seen how being abandoned by her mother had a negative impact on her life. No matter how patient or kind Miranda is to “Shannon”, “Shannon” cannot seem to trust her completely nor be satisfied with what she has. She instead finds herself feeling lost and wandering, and even runs away at one point in the book.
What I liked about this book was that all the characters no matter how major or minor where not one dimensional. Even the most flawed and cruel characters were given a chance to gain at least some of the reader’s sympathy for their situation. And while the first person narration in this book was a bit difficult to get used to for this specific book, I found the writing in this book to be consistently strong. The descriptions of the people and settings felt very authentic and the whole novel was a very gritty look at adoption, and foster families. Even the ending , without spoiling too much maintains the very real feeling of the novel, and the idea that life isn’t perfect and sometimes even knowing the answers to all your questions won’t solve all your problems in life. Finally though this book was about a girl trying to find her mother, I found that the best written relationship in this book was the one between Shannon and Vaughan, the man who found her as a baby on the steps of the Y. This was the one relationship that felt very stable and natural which turned out to be a good thing for Shannon who has led a life that has had many ups and downs. Anyways I’d recommend this book if you want a satisfying read about a young girl just trying to find her family and her place in the world.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own; I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review. I am currently accepting young adult fiction and adult fiction books that have a crossover appeal to young adults for review. If you have any questions or would like for me to review your book feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.