Kathleen Winter's 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 secret--the baby's 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 boy's 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. John's, 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 body's insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.
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January 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Annabel by Kathleen Winter
When you are the mother, you take it in stride. You take albino hair in stride, when you are the mother. When you are the mother, not someone watching that mother, you take odd-colored eyes in stride. You take a missing hand, and Down syndrome, and spina bifida, and water on the brain. You would take wings in stride, or one lung outside the body, or a missing tongue. The penis and the one little testicle and labia and vagina were like this, for Jacinta. Wayne slept in his cradle under his green quilt and white blanket. His black belly button stuck out, and Jacinta cleaned it with an alcohol swab, waiting for it to fall off. She played with his little red feet, and felt close to him when he crammed her breast in his mouth and sucked while raising his eyes slowly, slowly, across her collarbone, across the ceiling, gazing at Thomasina or the stove or the cat, back again to her collarbone, then up, up, until he found her eyes and locked on, and that was a kind of flying, flying through the Northern Lights, or a Chagall night sky, with a little white goat to give a blessing. There was blessing everywhere between Jacinta and this baby, and there were times when she completely forgot what it was about him that she was hiding from her husband.