Wednesday 8 May 2013


'Y' by Marjorie Celona was another of my books from the Read-a-thon. I sat and finished it after the deadline on the Sunday afternoon; it's one of those stories where you really need to get to the end. 

The title is short for YMCA, where a baby is left on the doorstep by a young desperate mother. It is also, I suppose, short for 'why', in that the story is about the baby, growing up and searching for a sense of identity and an explanation for the abandonment. So we follow the life of Shandi/Samantha/Shannon through various foster homes until she is eventually adopted by Miranda. At the same time we have periodic flashbacks to the life of her mother Yula and the events which lead up to that cold morning at the Y. It is a story very much about relationships: between Shannon and Miranda, between Shannon and Lydia-Rose her step-sister, between Yula and her father Quinn, between Yula and her boyfriend Harrison. The most interesting one however develops between Shannon and Vaughn, the man who was waiting in his car for the Y to open that morning and who observed Yula leaving the tiny bundle on the doorstep. She finds him volunteering at the Y and kind of attaches herself to him and enlists his help in her search. 

The book was nice, well written and engaging, but nothing very special. Shannon has a slightly predictable journey through unreliable foster parents, abuse and neglect, eventually find a bit of stability but does the rest of her growing up in a somewhat rough neighbourhood. Then she goes through a process of typical teenage rebellion against Mirinda, being secretive about her search and running away. She finds a father who has nothing to offer her and a mother who has shut herself away in grief. They are not happy people and she rather sensibly concludes that she is glad of the life she has had and not the one she might have had in the isolated cottage with her mother. I kind of liked her mostly because she is not remarkable, not beautiful or clever or talented or even often particularly nice, just ordinary, and because she manages to take control of her life and decide what is valuable. The story ended and I did not worry about what might become of her, nor was I particularly interested, she was just going to be ok.

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