Sunday, May 26, 2013
Rainy Day Reading...
The rainy days are good for one thing at least- I have finished two good books. Today I'll tell you about Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Another debut novel (I seem to be reading a lot of those lately), this story, written with great sensitivity, is about a young person coming to terms with his identity and sexuality. Set in remote coastal Labrador in the late 60's, it is the story of a young couple whose first (and only) child is born a true hermaphrodite (born with both male and female functioning tissue). Treadway, the father, a hunter and trapper, wants the child to be raised as a male without ever being told of the circumstances of his birth. His wife, Jacinta, agrees, not wanting to go against her husband's wishes, but her choice would have been for Wayne to be raised female. The baby undergoes surgery to assign him the masculine gender, but as he matures it appears this was the wrong choice. After a medical emergency in his early teen years, he learns the truth of his birth and continues on his journey to find his true self.
I found it hard to believe this is Winter's first novel. It is well written and her characterization is so very well done. Each of the main characters are well developed. Jacinta's loneliness, Wayne's doubts and uncertainties about himself, and Treadway's quiet ways and desire to retreat to the solace of his trapline - these all make the characters so realistic. This is not a book with a great deal of action, but it draws you in to the lives of this family and their struggles. I found it both touching and heart-breaking.
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ~ E.E. Cummings