My fourth book of the year and the choice of this month’s book club at Mainstreet Trading is Annabel by Kathleen Winter. This was a book that was on my wish list so I was delighted when it was the January book club choice.
Like Snow Child which from memory was the book club choice in January last year Annabel is an ideal read for this time of year. You just want to curl up beside a fire and read it as the snow falls outside.
Annabel is set in Labrador in Canada in a very small town. It is about a child who is born both a boy and a girl. Today this is called inter sex. Only three people are first aware of this. His parents and a close family friend who helps deliver the baby. Wither right or wrong the father takes the decision that he should be a boy and the child has an operation to ensure his masculinity is preserved. The mother and her friend though never forget that he is also a girl and despite trying his best to the father can’t forget either.
What follows is the story of the boy’s childhood into young adulthood. The impact that being both male and female has on his life. How it impacts on the life of his parents and how the family friend is his one constant through his life. It is about how the father realises that perhaps the decision was not his to take and when his son needs him most reached out to him and saves him. In saying sorry they are both redeemed.
The writing of the book is beautiful. I don’t often write down quotes from books but have done so on this occasion.
Firstly view point of parents as their child reaches young adulthood
“But the falling away had started. When the child separates from its parents to explore the new world. The parents can do one of two things. They can fight it with rules, pleading, tears and anger. Or they can admit the new world exists dangerous and irresistible. Cosy is not what awakening youth wants. Safety is not what it wants.”
Now the view of the young adult
“Wayne’s sadness was the sadness all sons and daughters feel when the ferry starts moving and the parents stands on the dock waving and growing tiny. A sadness that stings and then melts in a fresh wind.”
Finally the last sentences of the book which I thought was beautiful and summed up the book.
“Only in wind over the land did Treadway find the freedom his son would seek elsewhere. Treadway was a man of Labrador. But his son had left home as daughters and sons do to seek freedom their fathers do not need to inhabit, for it inhabits the father.”
There was a record turn out at book club last night and although there was good debate about certain elements of the book this reflected the success of this as a book club choice. In the main the summary was that it was a beautifully written book with compelling characters. It’s different and well worth reading.
The greatest accolade I can give this book is that a friend of mine was needing an inspirational book to read for a course she is doing. I handed her Annabel.