Y is Marjorie Celona's newly released debut novel. I think you're going to be hearing lots more about this author and title.
"Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The quetion we ask over and over. Why?"
And the Y is where the story begins as well - the YMCA in a town on Vancouver Island. The Y is where Shannon's mother Yula leaves her when she is a day old, wrapped in a dirty sweatshirt with a Swiss Army knife as her legacy.
As a baby Shannon is shifted through various foster homes until she lands with Miranda and her daughter Lydia-Rose. It is with Miranda that she finally finds some stability and safety. But it is here that she also begins to act out, to question, to search, to need and to want to find her parents and answers.
"I want to know who my real family is, who I really belong to, why I look this way, why I feel this ay. I want to know these things more than anything in the world." "I don't need my mother to be a good person. I just want to know who she is."
Celona has chosen an unusual narrative style for her book - but it's one that absolutely works. Young Shannon recounts her life and that of her mother as an almost disinterested third party observer, then switches to current day. The story goes back and forth, past and present, between Shannon's story and that of her mother Yula. Each woman's tale is so addicting and absorbing that I could not find a place to stop. I had to keep reading, to discover the why of Yula's decision, to discover if Shannon finds her way, her place, the answers she needs and if it is enough.
Celona's prose flow easily and seamlessly, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the story. Both Shannon and Yula's narratives are powerful and poignant. Although Yula's story is no less compelling, it was Shannon I wanted to hug and comfort. Their lives are not easy to read about, but impossible to turn away from.
I was thinking about Y long after I turned the last page. Did I like the ending? What if....? What is the right thing to do? Who can judge? What is love? And that's the mark of a good book - one that keeps you thinking about it after the last page is turned. Definitely recommended.