Monday, January 7, 2013

Jackie Says This Debut Novel Is Impossible To Forget


Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y.”

So opens Marjorie Celona’s highly acclaimed and exquisitely rendered debut about a wise-beyond-her-years foster child abandoned as a newborn on the doorstep of the local YMCA. Swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife tucked between her feet, little Shannon is discovered by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. That morning, all three lives are forever changed.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures abuse and neglect until she finally finds stability with Miranda, a kind but no-nonsense single mother with a free-spirited daughter of her own. Yet Shannon defines life on her own terms, refusing to settle down, and never stops longing to uncover her roots—especially the stubborn question of why her mother would abandon her on the day she was born.

Brilliantly and hauntingly interwoven with Shannon’s story is the tale of her mother, Yula, a girl herself who is facing a desperate fate in the hours and days leading up to Shannon’s birth. As past and present converge, Y tells an unforgettable story of identity, inheritance, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Celona’s ravishingly beautiful novel offers a deeply affecting look at the choices we make and what it means to be a family, and it marks the debut of a magnificent new voice in contemporary fiction.

Jackie says:
"Y is a book about the why's of two lives.  Why did one woman abandon her newly born daughter at the door of a YMCA?  Why was it so hard for that little girl to find a real home?  Why do we sometimes embrace responsibility and sometimes run away from it?  Why are people cruel to the helpless, the innocent?  The characters in this book are flawed and stumbling--in other words, very human and very memorable.  Weaving two stories continuously could have made for a complicated read, but instead it gave time to ponder the one as your read the next part of the other , keeping what could have been too much intensity at an intellectual simmer that drove both narratives nicely.  The issues of what it means to be a family, and the meaning of 'home' are challenged, remolded, and puzzled into a story that was not always easy to read, difficult to put down, and impossible to forget."

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