Book - 2010
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Kathleen Winter's luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret--the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy's female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as "Annabel," is never entirely extinguished.

Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body's insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.
Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9780802170828
Branch Call Number: WINTE
Characteristics: 465 p.


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Jun 12, 2020

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.

Apr 01, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this book until the last few chapters. It just felt disconnected from the rest of the story.

Nov 19, 2017

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!”
- Meghan

Mar 26, 2017

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

Jan 29, 2017

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.

falsedichotomy Dec 31, 2015

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.

ehbooklover Mar 09, 2015

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.

WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

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.

IdeaLab_Mandy Jun 14, 2014

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

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Mar 13, 2012

Winter's first novel tells the story of an intersex child born in the late 1960s in a small, rural town in Canada and raised as a boy. His parents try to protect Wayne from harm, each in his or her own way; his father tries to interest him in the wilderness skills that men in their community use to make a living, but his mother refuses to discourage his interest in more feminine pursuits. Wayne doesn't learn of his intersexuality until a medical emergency reveals his condition to him. Though he tries to be a boy to fit in, he is preoccupied by the girl that he knows lives within him; he has to leave home and quit his hormone therapy to allow his body to be as ambiguous as he feels inside. Winter's lyrical language contrasts with the characters' discomfort about Wayne's secret. VERDICT Readers interested in literary explorations of gender, such as Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, will appreciate this novel as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]-Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals

kala73 Dec 22, 2011

The author has done the character development so well that the reader can see various points of view. Very much enjoyed her style of prose. Touching without melodrama.

AGLibrary Jul 21, 2011

Hermaphrodite child born to a couple in Labrador, birth to adult.

skatemom May 04, 2011

Here is a summary from Chapters web site.
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 to 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 a compelling tale about one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction.


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Oct 03, 2010

You can't be synchronized if you're by yourself. Imagine synchronizing your watch to the right time if it is the only watch in the world.

Oct 01, 2010

The child knew that a grim, matter-of-fact attitude was required of him by his father, and he learned how to exhibit such an attitude, and he did not mind it because it was the way things were, but it was not his authentic self.

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