Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Y - Marjorie Celona

 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.

Read an excerpt of Y. This would be a great selection for a book club. A reading group guide is available.

Marjorie Celona received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the Ailene Barger Barnes Prize. Her stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading,Glimmer Train, and Harvard Review. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, she lives in Cincinnati.

See what others on the tour thought:

Aug. 28 Michele @ Just a Lil Lost
Aug. 29 Evie @ Bookish
Aug. 30 Sarah @ Just Another Story
Aug. 31 Nicole @ Nicole About Town
Sept. 3 Corrine @ Lost For Words
Sept. 4 Luanne @ A Bookworm’s World
Sept. 5 Zoe @ In The Next Room
Sept. 6 Christy @ Home of Ohm
Sept. 7 Sharonne @ Tales of a Ranting Ginger
Sept. 10 Maria @ Bored Mommy
Sept. 11 Sarah @ Workaday Reads


bermudaonion said...

This was featured in a book club event I attended at BEA and I thought it sounded great then. I'm so glad to hear it's good.

Zoƫ said...

Absolutely in love with this book so far! I have to finish it up today for my book tour stop and I can't wait! Glad to see others falling in love too.

Carol N Wong said...

A little off the subject but when I first saw the title, I thought this is perfect for the A-Z challenge. Unfortunately my Y is already filled. Still looking for an X book! Now, I will go back and read about the book!!!


ChristasBooks said...

I love books that keep you asking questions long after you've finished reading. This sounds like an absolutely captivating book and I can't wait to read it.

Luanne said...

Kathy - I think it's an excellent choice for a book club - lots of fodder for discussion.

Zoe - Wasn't it good!

Carol - Hmm, no X's to recommend - yet.

Christa - You'll like it - and it's Canadian!

Jules said...

I'm trying to get through the Giller longlist before the shortlist is announced - which is unlikely at this point, but this was bumped up the list because of the introduction. I read an expert on my ereader and had to buy it instead of waiting for it at the library. I can't wait to read it!

Luanne said...

Jules - you're ambitious! But what a great challenge! I hope you enjoy it!

Chrystal said...

I have this in my TBR pile now. I really can't wait to read it. :) Great review!