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I absolutely adored this book! As a high school teacher, I just felt so much empathy for all that Wayne/Annabel, growing up as a hermaphrodite, was going through. From beginning to end, I just wanted to comfort this child. I bought this book, many times over, for friends.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book until the last few chapters. It just felt disconnected from the rest of the story.
I read Annabel for my 2017 Reading Challenge in the category of a Giller prize winner or nominee. I found the story to be unbelievable. For example, that a piece of glass would land so perfectly in her throat to cause permanent damage to Wallis' vocal cords. I am also tired of sexual violence being the only thing that defines what it is to be a woman.
“This book was hauntingly beautiful. It tells the story of a child, born in a remote Labradorean town in 1968, who is not quite male and not quite female. Winter’s storytelling is luminous and poignant as we grow up alongside Wayne (Annabel) in the cold, Canadian climate, privy to one family’s secrets. I'm still reeling from this story and it's been years since I read it--time for a re-read!”
I liked this book about secrets more than I thought I would. About secrets kept – of a child hermaphrodite growing up a as the boy Wayne – and about secrets hesitantly revealed – of the girl Annabel living within ‘his’ body and psyche. On page 87 his mother says about another issue: It could be [bad] if you hide something important from someone you love, which captures the main theme of the book. Author Kathleen Winter beautifully explores the true nature of friendship, and Wayne/Annabel’s journey to self knowledge. And this is part and parcel of creating characters who the reader really comes to know. Winter examines parenting styles – of those who seek to shape the child into their own preconceptions, and of those who nurture what they see of the child’s nature and interests. Although the author also intends the book to be about the father’s self growth, so much of him is revealed at the end, and not planted earlier, that I found that aspect a weakness
There are so many ways to look at this book, it is difficult to decide which lens through which to examine it.
On the surface, it is a book about gender. On a deeper level, it is a book about identity. Influencing our identity are place, family and relationships, but in our core, we may need something that cannot be provided by the people or the place where we are born.
What moves us, and to whom are we responsible? How do we reconcile our desire to be fulfilled and still support those we love? When do we walk away from someone in pain, someone who needs us, for the sake of our own needs?
Kathleen Winters does not have all the answers, but she poses the questions in such a way that we can take the time to reflect on our experience.
Like many Canadian novels I've read, this one has a strong undertone of sadness and despair - it must be the long winters!
I thought the characters were fascinating and the story was quite good too, but what really held me, and stayed with me long after I'd finished the book, was the author's descriptions of remote Labrador and the lives of trappers in the isolated north.
3.5 stars. A beautifully written, evocative, and emotional read that touches on many important themes such as nature VS. nurture and learning to be true to ones self. Difficult to read at times but so worth it. The complex characters will stay with you long after you have put this book down.
Descriptions of rural Labrador in the late 1960s provide a stunning, stark backdrop for the story of Wayne, born a hermaphrodite into a small community. The actions and inaction of the adults in his life shape his identity and self-perception through his childhood until Wayne/Annabel comes of age despite previous medical and social intervention.
Another Canadian master on the literary scene. Wayne struggles with his identity after he learns, abruptly, that he is not who he thought he was. Coping with the news he is "other", neither male or female, in unsophisticated Labrador is anything but easy. A coming of age story complicated by biology and set in a distinctive place. What I can't convey here is what a wonderful writer Winter is; so find out for yourself.
Serving suggestion: fried cod's tongues with peas pudding, followed by bakeapple (cloudberry) tart
Ce livre fut mon tout premier e-read (numérique) et j'ai adoré cet auteure Terreneuvienne.
I read this for Canada Reads 2014 and because I love Canadian Literature. By the time you finish this book you will feel like you have been on the journey with the characters, and also want to see thelandscape of Labrador first hand. If this subject interests , try as well Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Dec 15, 2013....this is one of the picks for the Canada Reads debate which starts in March 2014. I am going to put aside my Steven King Dark Tower series and start these books. This one came in first so, it gets read first, although I see 3 more came in on Friday. (it's Sunday) Going to be a happy reading winter! I am on page 27, and so far liking it. Reminds me a bit of "The Seal Wife" and "The Birth House." Maybe it's just that east coast flavour? (Oh, just checked, "The Seal Wife" was set in Alaska.....same remote, small town feel?)......Dec 17, finding this story very sad. I'm on page 138, still a lot more to go, but really not sure what path it will take. Must read on!.......Dec 18, on page 229. This story is still full of sad people, and sad events, in what sounds like a beautiful landscape.......Dec 20, on page 313, still sad, but now has a bit of a science fiction twist? I'm not sure what to think of this book.......Dec 23, I only have a few pages of this galloping sad story to finish, and I think I am beginning to see the point of it. Wonder if I am right?.....(later on).....well it didn't directly go where I thought it was going, but it was implied. After all of the above, I have a smile on my face!
It is a story you are not expecting...you meet Treadway and Jacinta and their baby. But there is a secret about their baby that they only know and the midwife, Thomasina. As the child grows up and is unknown to its secret, it pulls on Jacinta and her relationship with her husband, Treadway. Yet, Treadway tries to understand the child, but confronts challenges with their relationship. The child has a close relationship with Thomasina and she tries to challenge and engage the child. But later circumstances unfold and the secret is not a secret anymore. But as the child, become themselves, they search and see where they must belong in their world. Lovely descriptives of the landscape of Labrador and the character's internal thinking. Enjoyed!
Ms. Winter is a wonderful writer. She can evoke place beautifully, along with varieties of spiritual experience perhaps unknown to most of us. This is a special coming-of-age book, which belongs in Adult as well as Young Adult collections. If you're looking for lessons, it's a great read to force people to rethink identity, in particular sexual identity, and stereotypes. But no one gets points from me if they can't take me to another world. This author makes the grade. Also the story of the passing of a generation in a developing world.
Annabel is hauntingly gorgeous. I have no other words for it. Kathleen Winter creates a world of full immersion with her storytelling, one where Labrador is realized in sights, sounds, smells, and emotion. I have never been to Labrador, but the describes it so lushly, and mystically, that I was practically shivering with the experience.
Outside of the setting, the people in Annabel are completely real. They are not stereotypes, or one-dimensional, or tools to serve the purpose of the main character, Wayne. Each character has their own story, of varying arc sizes, and they are as real as any childhood memory. In fact, I can't say Wayne was the sole main character of this book, although it is primarily his/her story being told. Jacinta, Thomasina, Treadway...these characters have their own lives within the story, and I found myself loving them all.
I was so compelled by this story that I read it entirely in two days (and you know I don't lose sleep willingly very often). It was hard to put down, not because of action sequences and pacing, but because it was so rich and full. I wanted to be Wally, in my childhood, after reading this. And it's frankly too beautiful and nuanced to be made into a movie. But if more writers turned out stories like this, the world would be a wonderful place.
I recommend this book for lovers of fiction, good characterization, realistic and multi-layered settings, and, heck, I think everyone should read this majesty of a novel.
Lyrical prose evoking thought provoking external and internal landscapes and a challenging topic but in the end, haunting and somehow unsatisfying. Could this possibly be somewhat autobiographical?
<i>Annabel</i> was, for me, a hay wagon ride on a very bumpy road. It was an awkward lecture by author Kathleen Winter on discrimination and fear and male chauvinism and the damage caused by lying and provincialism all told by unlikeable characters in a landscape the author seems to think is bleak and barren. So why was I surprised to find a hero with more woodcraft than a James Fennimore Cooper Indian, a miraculous cure for severed vocal chords, and pot of gold at the end of the ride. Expecting <i>Middlesex</i>? Well, maybe <i>Alice in Wonderland</i> played off-key.
I spit my tea when I read Ms Winter saying that spring breakup in Labrador starts in early March...erm, I grew up in Edmonton and spring breakup never started til mebbe late April. (I checked this on the net to confirm.) And if I was in the last crushingly painful throes of giving birth, I doubt I would be pouring "scalding coffee" and chatting about the wonderful life without the menfolk.
I did not read past the first chapter. Waste of my time and waste of money for a Canada grant for this drivel.
billy elliot + bridge to terabitha = a story of development and discovery, not only of the central character, but of the lives around him. maritime flavour - newfoundland at its wild and rawest.
I can probably count on both hands the number of books that have affected me as emotionally as this book did. A great book leaves you with a sense of wonder and a knowledge that you have experienced something precious and rare. This is one of those books. The story flowed so well that I didn't feel like I was reading, it was more like listening to a story. The characterization is phenominal--Wayne/Annabel is so riveting. The supporting characters are every bit as strong and meaningful to the story. So good it brought tears to my eyes.
Set in Labrador in 1968, this book tells the story of a child growing up. Only three people (parents and one friend) knowing that the child is a hermaphrodite. The child is raised as a boy in the masculine hunting culture of Labrador but the feminine side is not extinguished. Somehow, this unusual story is interesting and very well written.
Great book! The main character is very likeable, and the author has a way of inspiring a great deal of empathy in the reader for this poor boy's life. Very readable and entertaining. Highly recommended.
Very few books linger for me months after reading them. This book and the beautiful prose of Kathleen Winter come back to mind time and time again.