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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet


Author: Marjorie Celona
Originally Published: 2012
Edition Courtney Read Published: 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Source: Received a copy from the publisher

The Story

YFrom the back of the book:

My life begins at the Y. So begins the story of Shannon, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the YMCA. She is found moments later by a man who catches a mere glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. All three lives are forever changed by the single decision.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures neglect and abuse but then finds stability and love in the home of Miranda, a kind single mother who refuses to let anything ever go to waste. But as Shannon grows, so do the questions inside her. Where is she from? Who is her true family? Why would they abandon her on the day she was born? The answers lie in the heartbreaking tale of Yula, Shannon’s mother, a girl herself and one with a desperate fate.

Eventually the two stories converge to shape an unforgettable story of family, identity, and inheritance. Written with rare beauty, wisdom, and intimacy, Y is a novel that asks “why?” even as it reveals that the answer isn’t always clear and that it may not always matter.

The Response

Y was an extremely easy book to get into. It’s really well written – this is Celona’s debut novel, but it doesn’t read like a debut novel. She is an extremely talented writer and has delivered a well-crafted novel that pulls the reader in from the first page. The reader wants to know, along with Shannon, where she came from and why she was just left on the doorstop of the YMCA.

The stories of Shannon and Yula are told through alternating chapters. While we learn about both women, Yula’s story takes place leading up to Shannon’s birth, and so it more of an extension of Shannon’s story itself. Going between the past and present was sometimes a little distracting to the book, but both stories were captivating enough on their own to easily get the reader into what they were reading about almost immediately.

I can’t decide what I think about Shannon – she was certainly an interesting character, don’t get me wrong about that. I suppose, having your parents abandon you, and having been bounced between various foster homes before finally being adopted, well… that could definitely be cause to act out and try to push everyone away who loves you. I can empathize with that. But her actions did occasionally make her much harder to like – especially when the reader got to see how much her actions hurt other people.

It really would have been interesting to see this story from another person’s perspective as well – especially from the perspective of Shannon’s adopted sister. How it must’ve felt like to one day get a sister your own age, and then to see this sister emotionally hurt your mother over and over. There must’ve been all kinds of crazy resentment…

The Bottom Line

This was really a great read. Although it was so heartbreaking at times, it was so full of hope and love at other times. I loved this book, and I will be passing it on to others immediately.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:53 am July 16, 2013.
Category: Fiction and Literature
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