Sunday 4 May 2014

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Published: April 2013
Source: Purchased


A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and a #1 national bestseller, Kathleen Winter's spectacular debut novel is now available in a new edition.

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret — the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as "Annabel" — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.

Haunting and sweeping in scope, Annabel is an unforgettable novel about a one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction.


I cannot remember when or where I got this book, but I am so glad I did, and so glad that I read it! It takes on a very interesting topic and not one that I have ever read about before, so I am not sure how realistic this story would be, however, it feels very real while you are reading it. I loved all the characters, even all their flaws, and there were a lot. Kathleen Winter just made the people and the surroundings pop out at you with every word that was written.

We are first introduced to Jacinta and Treadway, the parents of Wayne who is born right at the beginning of the novel. They seem like the typical "normal" couple, but not everything is at it seems on the outside. Treadway is what you would call a man's man I guess, he goes out and works, and Jacinta stays home with the baby and tends to the house. When Wayne is born a hermaphrodite, no one knows what to do, and Jacinta thinks that she can hide it from Treadway and make a decision later, but Treadway knows, and he makes the decision for them, a decision that will forever have consequences for Wayne.

Throughout this novel there are many different subjects that are brought up, trust, loyalty, friendship, lies, and so many more. I finished the book today and I know that I will be thinking about it for days and weeks to come, and I love when that happens as I know that it will be a book that I will read over and over again. 

We see Wayne grow up through this novel, trying to fit in, not knowing where he belongs, but for the longest time, he does not understand why. We see Treadway try and reinforce the fact that he is a boy over and over again, and to Wayne he does not know why his Dad is fixated on this, and why it should matter so much, until the day that he finds out the truth of the situation.

I don't want to say much more about what happens in this novel, but I do strongly suggest that you read it, I think that it touches on so many subjects that everyone can find something to relate to in it. An absolute 5/5 must read from me!

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