When I originally received the email pitching Y by Marjorie Celona for this blog tour, there was something about it that just jumped out at me and made me want to read the book. I received the book and decided not to pick it up and read it right away. I decided to do a little experiment. As much as I wanted to read the book, would I still be as interested as I was when it was pitched if I put it out of sight, out of mind for a while? Would I still have that overwhelming desire to read the book that I had after reading that pitch? Would the same things draw me in? The short answer is yes. Time and distance didn’t dampen my desire to read Y one little bit, and for very good reason.
The story begins when Shannon is abandoned on the steps of the YMCA by her mother and follows Shannon through her childhood growing up as she is bounced from one foster home to another. As Shannon narrates, she tells us two stories; that of herself and that of the mother who abandoned her. As you are reading you feel the same fear, sadness, desperation, and hope of the characters as their stories unfold. While switching from one story to another does take some getting used to, the story and the delivery flows so wonderfully that you aren’t left feeling like something is missing at any point.
As Shannon grows, we watch her question her past and in a sense, her future. She begins to ask the inevitable question of Y? Through her search for answers, Shannon learns much about her biological mother and family and begins to realize that not all questions have easy answers and that sometimes our families are the ones we have created for ourselves and not the ones we were born into.
Y is both Marjorie Celona’s debut novel and a triumph. A triumph of spirit, a triumph of determination, and a triumph of writing. Deeply moving and universal, Y explores the topic and dynamics of family with flowing prose and great ease.