Shannon is abandoned as a newborn by her mother, who leaves her on the steps of the YMCA. She might not have survived if a man didn’t see her mother drop her off and alert someone to the presence of a baby on the doorstep. Thus begins Shannon’s childhood, living with different foster families and struggling to understand why her mother would give her away. She’s inquisitive, she’s mischievous and she’s rebellious, often pushing away anyone that gets too close while reaching outwards to find out where she had come from.
Two stories told in one voice, makes Y a unique voice to read. Shannon narrates both her own life story as well as her birth mother, Yula’s. It’s interesting to hear her speak of her mother and father in a time before she was born and, similar to The Lovely Bones, the overseeing narrator almost gives it an eerier vibe. I doubt that the intention was to make it creepy but it did leave me with a kind of disoriented feeling, hearing Shannon refer to her father as such or by his first name. At times, I forgot that it was Shannon’s voice and not her mother’s telling her own story; that “father” meant Shannon’s father and not Yula’s (because that would certainly have made it a whole different kind of story!)
Y is a heartbreaking and heartwarming tale at the same time. I found myself rooting for Shannon through each of her foster homes and the circumstances she found herself in. Whether it was the living situation or her own foibles, each time there’s a stumble you just want to reach out to the poor girl and help her back up on her feet. Celona writes in Shannon’s voice with such confusion and wonder, often allowing the reader to feel like they are seeing the world through the child’s eyes.
The title is so loaded with meaning, and its significance is infused throughout the core of Celona’s writing. Whether it means the Y where Shannon was left, or the Y in her mother’s name or even just the question “why?”, the simple one-letter name for this book holds so much importance to the essence of this story. It reflects on the saying “home is where the heart is“, and reexamines the definition of what constitutes a family. Reminiscent of Heather O’Neill’s Lullabies for Little Criminals, this book is a powerful debut by a talented author.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
Available: August 28, 2012
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A copy of this book was provided by the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
Blog Tour Stops
- August 28 Michele @ Just a Lil Lost (that’s me!)
- August 29 Evie @ Bookish
- August 30 Sarah @ Just Another Story
- August 31 Nicole @ Nicole About Town
- September 3 Corrine @ Lost For Words
- September 4 Luanne @ A Bookworm’s World
- September 5 Zoe @ In The Next Room
- September 6 Christy @ Home of Ohm
- September 7 Sharonne @ Tales of a Ranting Ginger
- September 10 Maria @ Bored Mommy
- September 11 Sarah @ Workaday Reads