Kathleen Winters 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 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 secretthe babys parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and their 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 boys female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hypermasculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as Annabel, is never entirely extinguished.
When Wayne finally escapes the confines of his hometown and settles in St. Johns, the anonymity of the city grants him the freedom to confront his dual identity. His ultimate choice will once again call into question the integrity and allegiance of those he loves most.
Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the bodys insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.
Someone famously said once that reading novels is the best way to understand the thoughts of people other than ourselves. Or something like that. Regardless, this is the biggest reason I read fiction. I am fascinated by human beings and what makes us tick. Kathleen Winters has written a remarkable book that takes the inner lives of a small family and blows the pieces apart for us to dig through and marvel at. This book will show you some of the things inside your own head, as well as making you think twice about what your family members might be feeling. (Reviewed by Beverly Melven).
Though delivered at times with a heavy hand, the novel's moral of acceptance and understanding is sure to win Winter many fans.
A simple yet eloquent coming-of-age tale, this debut novel quietly questions our assumptions about gender by presenting us with a host of complex, evocative characters. A fantastic read...
Winter's lyrical language contrasts with the characters' discomfort about Wayne's secret.
Starred Review. A compelling, gracefully written novel about mixed gender that sheds insight as surely as it rejects sensationalism. This book announces the arrival of a major writer.
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
A novel about secrets and silences ... What Winter has achieved here is no less a miracle than the fact of Wayne’s birth. Read it because it’s a story told with sensitivity to language that compels to the last page, and read it because it asks the most existential of questions. Stripped of the trappings of gender, Winter asks, what are we?
The Chronicle Herald (Canada)
[An] aching tale of ... identity, acceptance and family. ... Fluid and poised ... Annabel is a stunning and stirring debut that signals the long-overdue arrival of a literary talent.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by avid surprisingly relevant Although this book focuses on the coming-of-age of a hermaphrodite, its message is relevant to many parent/teen relationships. Its themes of love, acceptance, and friendship are universal. Unlike "Middlesex" (the other popular... Read More
Labrador and Newfoundland
Annabel takes place in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province of Canada. Located on the Atlantic coast, the province is divided into the mainland area of Labrador (east and north of Quebec), and the island of Newfoundland. With a total area roughly the size of Colorado, the island of Newfoundland makes up 25% of the area and 94% of the population (approximately half a million), leaving the larger area of Labrador sparsely populated. The northern part of Labrador is above the Arctic Circle, so the climate is both polar and sub-arctic, with most of the population clustered around the coastal areas. Wayne grows up in a small village on the southeast coast of Labrador, not too far from Newfoundland.
Inhabited by several waves of native peoples (most recently, the Innu, Inuit and now extinct Beothuk), the area has been populated for at least 9,000...
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