Y by Marjorie Celona
A Novel

74%

10 Critic Reviews

In Shannon’s case, then, attainment of self knowledge is redemption, and more or less constitutes a happy ending for the novel. It doesn’t come easy but fortunately author Marjorie Celona is a good storyteller...
-National Post arts

Synopsis

“Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y.” So opens Marjorie Celona’s highly acclaimed and exquisitely rendered debut about a wise-beyond-her-years foster child abandoned as a newborn on the doorstep of the local YMCA. Swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife tucked between her feet, little Shannon is discovered by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. That morning, all three lives are forever changed.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures abuse and neglect until she finally finds stability with Miranda, a kind but no-nonsense single mother with a free-spirited daughter of her own. Yet Shannon defines life on her own terms, refusing to settle down, and never stops longing to uncover her roots—especially the stubborn question of why her mother would abandon her on the day she was born.

Brilliantly and hauntingly interwoven with Shannon’s story is the tale of her mother, Yula, a girl herself who is facing a desperate fate in the hours and days leading up to Shannon’s birth. As past and present converge, Y tells an unforgettable story of identity, inheritance, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Celona’s ravishingly beautiful novel offers a deeply affecting look at the choices we make and what it means to be a family, and it marks the debut of a magnificent new voice in contemporary fiction.
 

About Marjorie Celona

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Marjorie Celona received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the John C. Schupes fellowship. Her stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Glimmer Train, and Harvard Review. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, she lives in Cincinnati.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Free Press. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Y
All: 10 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by SUZANNE BERNE on Jan 09 2013

...it’s refreshing to read a novel in which questions are not so much answered as extended, and Shannon is an appealing narrator, partly because she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, at least not for long, or blame others for her struggles.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Evie Wyld on Feb 15 2013

Y is a beautiful, moving book that explores what it takes to belong from a new author with a voice that is bold, surefooted and confident.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Sara O’Leary on Aug 31 2012

This is a novel about connections and about relationships, causal and otherwise. ..It is not surprising that she is changed by the events of her life and their recounting. The real joy is that the reader may be as well.

Read Full Review of Y: A Novel | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Hunter on Sep 08 2012

This isn’t Dickens or Montgomery . . . yet. But it is a splendid start for a first novelist who can create characters with many of the qualities of a brave Oliver Twist or an independent Anne Shirley.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Jan 21 2013

Y deals with clichés like finding home and being both special and mundane, but Y manages to still offer a fresh perspective on the quest for self-discovery.

Read Full Review of Y: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Sep 14 2012

In Shannon’s case, then, attainment of self knowledge is redemption, and more or less constitutes a happy ending for the novel. It doesn’t come easy but fortunately author Marjorie Celona is a good storyteller...

Read Full Review of Y: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Dallas News

Above average
Reviewed by CECILY SAILER on Jan 11 2013

Though the accumulated trauma heaped on the novel’s female characters is sometimes melodramatic, Y is nevertheless a feat of storytelling. It will leave you raw but softened, carrying a brutal reminder that family is both made and given...

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NY Daily News

Above average
Reviewed by Wathira Nganga on Jan 31 2013

Through abuse, neglect, low self-esteem and other challenges, Shannon comes through stronger and ready to take on the world...But Celona leaves the reader with hope that Shannon will carry on nonetheless.

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Winnipeg Free Press

Good
Reviewed by Lindsay McKnight on Sep 29 2012

Celona's clean, fluid prose makes Y a fast and enjoyable read, and her engaging portrayal of Shannon -- as a lost little girl, then as an angry, wise-ass teenager -- is both heartbreaking and hilarious.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Aug 31 2012

The novel remains engrossing, in any case. Somehow the author makes Shannon, who would be a pain in real life, not a pain for the reader, no doubt partly because evil is convincingly evoked in the novel and we, as spectators, naturally want the relatively innocent to be spared.

Read Full Review of Y: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Y
73%

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