Y: A Novel by Marjorie Celona


Publisher:  Free Press
Published:  January 2013
Genre: Contemporary
ISBN: 1451674384
Goodreads: 3.62
Rating: ★★★

Reading challenges sometimes lead to interesting discoveries, as this one.

Being a member of a YA group on Goodreads I had participated in one of the challenges the group came up with this year : an A-Z challenge, wherein members had to read books where either the first word in the title of the books or the author’s name (first or last) would correspond with a letter in the alphabet.

And while it was a lot of fun to read and search new books to go with the instructions it was in a way also a callosal headache. Not because there is a dearth of YA books but because sometimes there can be so many options to choose from or in cases where the alphabets Q, X and Z  were  concerned quite not so many. Though we did have a leeway for those  – Q, X and Z could be positioned anywhere in the titles or author names. But perhaps the hardest time I had was to search for a book to correspond with the alphabet ‘Y’.  Somehow the books I would come across did not seem to really interest me. Reading the synopsis perhaps a halfway for most of them I just couldn’t feel the urge to read any of those until I came across Marjorie Celona’ Y.

The beautifully written synopsis grabbed my attention and finally I found the last piece of the puzzle.

Narrating the tale of Shannon, a foster child raised in various homes and the circumstances that make her mother Yula, abandon Shannon within hours of giving birth form the story of this book.

With alternating chapters, from Shannon’ perspective we get to know her story, One dealing with her past another with her present. Shannon describes the various people who acted as her foster parents and her life in their homes as we also learn about her mother Yula, a teenage mother with her second child on the way already.

While Shannon doesn’t have the greatest beginning and some really horrible people in her life, she finally ends up in a home with a single mom Miranda and her daughter Lydia-Rose where she finally finds a place where she is loved and looked after.

Yula, the troubled daughter of parents with a marriage that has become acidic makes one horrible decision after another in her teens. She loses her virginity in a threesome and ends up pregnant with the child of a stranger, as she never even knew either of the boys and gives birth to a boy named Eugene. While her parents stick together and are incredibly supportive of her during the crisis, their own marriage is as good as over. They however have stayed together for Yula’ sake – which I don’t find a good decision really considering one of their fights while on a bike ride goes horribly wrong and Yula’ mom Jo lands up in a hospital where after 3 days of struggle and fight gives up and dies. Her father Quinn loses some ability in one of his hands but is otherwise unharmed.

As if things weren’t bad enough already Yula gets attracted to a new guy in her town named Harrison, a drug addict and they start dating. Their brief time together leads to Shannon’ birth and also Eugene’ death. It’s at this point that Yula decides the negligence that cost the life of her one child should not cost that of another which leads her to abandoning Shannon.

The synopsis is without a doubt so amazing, you instantly like it and decide to grab a copy, unfortunately the same cannot be said about the book. Shannon’s Voice in the narration is so flat, you can’t decide whether you like this girl or not. Yes horrible things have happened to her. She has been abused, she has Amblyopia, but she is not really likable. Not as per me, If anything she is cold and empty. Considering her life I would not hold that against her, but there was a level of detachment that comes across when you read the book that Shannon feels with herself and her life, which translated to me as a reader. I did not feel much inclined to like her, perhaps because when she finally finds a family in Miranda and Lydia who genuinely love her, she is ungrateful to them. If she had stayed with them for a year or so I perhaps could see where she is coming from since most of her already short life would have been hard for her, but that’s not the case here, She has spent a huge chunk of her life under Miranda’ roof and yet right until the end doesn’t really understand the fact she is loved.

Her urge to know her biological parents and even the reasons that made Yula give up her daughter are understandable. Though it doesn’t make anything better.
The decisions made by the characters in this novel are all horribly wrong. Most of the characters seem to be on a self-destruct mode.

Liking this book depends solely on a reader’ preference and it doesn’t rate particularly high for me unfortunately.


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