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Y

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,318 ratings  ·  513 reviews
"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
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Hardcover, 259 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Free Press (first published August 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Mackenzie Thornton
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

I don't think I have ever been so sad to see a book end. It caught me by surprise and I must have stared at the last page for 5 minutes before I finally closed the book. It was like saying goodbye to a friend that you don't want to lose. I grew so attached to the main character that I almost cried.

One of my favourite things about this book is the way it was written. The narrative is beautiful and 150% suits how you imagine Shannon would think if
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Steven Langdon
The past year, 2012, has been a period of achievement and excellence for Canadian fiction, with particularly strong contributions from women authors such as Nancy Richler ("The Imposter Bride,") Alix Ohlin ("Inside") and Linda Spalding ("The Purchase.") There have also been positive comments in the media about the work of Marjorie Celona, a West Coast writer whose novel "Y" was published during the year.

For this reason, I read this novel with high expectations.

Its basic plot is compelling. A bab
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Sabrina
It seems ironic that the day I choose to read Y is the day this quote comes up on my twitter feed: When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. How right Ernest Hemingway was indeed. My galley copy of Y seems to breathe on it’s own. Its pages are filled with characters, but two or three are so vivid that they aren’t caricatures but real people.

On my first day working for Penguin Canada, there was a quiet hum of “Y” reverberating a
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Cheryl
Mar 09, 2013 Cheryl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Susan
Shelves: canadian, fiction, bc, victoria
A baby is abandoned at the Y. Why? Why do people choose the forks in the path that they do? People are so often incapable of recognising choices. They lack a perceptual awareness of their own abilities to influence their own course through their life. The novel follows the story of the abandoned baby and her childhood, and intersperses it with the story of her biological parents. The paths of the characters are littered with misery and bad choices. The bleakness is alleviated only a little by th ...more
T. Greenwood
This novel is gorgeously written. It is told from the point of view of Shannon who, as an infant, is abandoned by her birth mother on the steps of a YMCA. But the narrative also explores the incidents leading up to this moment. It's a heart-breaking, aching sort of story in so many ways, but it also forces the reader to examine what makes a family and what defines "home." The final passages of the novel just about blew me away with their cruelty, honesty, and beauty.

The only complaint I have is
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Laurie
I found this to be a quiet book, not a lot of high drama, even when the events could have been told that way, like when her foster father beat her. The book itself takes on the emotional style of the child; mostly quiet and watchful, waiting to see whether the developing circumstances turn out to be good or bad. When she allows herself a moment of breaking out of that passivity, it turns out to be unpleasant enough to send her back to her default mode. The part of the final section in which Shan ...more
Beth Browne
“My life begins at the Y,” is the first sentence of this brilliant story of a foundling who struggles to make her way in a world not always so friendly or kind. Not only did I love the travails and triumphs of this character, but I was also captivated by the writing. I can wholeheartedly give this book a solid five-star rating because it just has so much going for it. It’s a quirky story, with some very odd characters, some likable, some not, and a plot that just won’t let go.

The author flawless
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Casee Marie
For the first sixteen years of her life, Shannon never knew her parents. Left by her mother on the steps of a YMCA just hours after her birth, the young girl’s abandonment is witnessed by only one man. Her destiny remained bleak and uncertain as she was shuffled through foster homes, her name altered and her childhood a blur. Y is the captivating story of Shannon’s plight to come to terms with the hand she’s been dealt. It’s a remarkable narrative on life and the perpetual question of “why”, exa ...more
Kaitlin
I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!

This is a rare kind of fiction - written well, tells an important story but still easy to read. It's short, too, but says a lot. Many of the other reviewers have said it's a sad story, and it is, but it's happy too. Not whiny, doesn't try to hard.

The chapters alternate between the story of Shannon, whose mother left her at the Y the day she was born, and that of her mother, Yula, in the time leading up to Shannon's birth, told
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Karin
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaway yesterday evening.

When i began reading it, i noticed that within a list of places there was the Eaton's Centre. How odd, i thought, isn't that a store in Canada? I expect most books to take place somewhere in real or imaginary cities in the US. I was delighted to discover that yes, i was right, it IS set in Canada. Bonus deal for this Canadian!

The story is about a baby girl, left on the doorstep of the local Y on an island of the coast of British Co
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Michelle (tinyturtle88)
This book was haunting and mesmerizing in the same way as a car crash. The story is of Yula who finds herself in a very bad predicament and must abandon her premature baby on the door step of the YMCA within hours of giving birth to her. The story follows her life and what led to that moment. Alternately, chapters cover Shannon, the baby she leaves behind and what becomes of her, her horrific experiences through the Foster Care System and her difficult journey to self awareness, and answers.

The
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Joy (joyous reads)
Truth be told, I wrote this book off as something that was slightly out of my intellectual reach. Even if the story sounded simple enough, I'm shamed to say that I didn't get it.

I had a completely different opinion after I read it the first time. I was unable to get over myself. See, I get so comfortable with my reading choices that when a book this jarring comes my way, I freeze. I don't know what to do with myself. I've been so stubbornly set on how a character should act or how her story shou
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Jane
I thought the prologue was gorgeous. I'll copy it to share with students. This writer is able to observe and capture place amazingly. I feel as though I could travel to Victoria and Vancouver and find my way around if I took this book as my atlas. That said, this book is a downer. A real downer. I would never give or recommend it to a Middle or High School student. I think this book is listed as YA because the protagonist is young. The sex scenes are so sad, occasionally violent. The main charac ...more
Jackie
"Y" is a book about the why's of two lives. Why did one woman abandon her newly born daughter at the door of a YMCA? Why was it so hard for that little girl to find a real home? Why do we sometimes embrace responsibility and sometimes run away from it? Why are people cruel to the helpless, the innocent? The characters in this book are flawed and stumbling--in other words, very human and very memorable. Weaving two stories continuously could have made for a complicated read, but instead it gave t ...more
Joanne
Shannon is a girl in foster care who was abandoned at birth by her mother on the steps of the Y in Victoria. She shuttles from one hopeless home to another experiencing neglect and in one home extreme physical abuse. Finally, at 5, she is placed with single mother Miranda and her daughter. Over the years, Shannon struggles to find herself, making Miranda's life difficult and bouncing in and out of school. At 17 she makes a serious effort to find her birth parents and reconnect with them.

Yula is
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Sooz
I had not heard of this novel before it was put forward by my bookclub. It isn't often I pick up a book with zero foreknowledge of the story, the author, the genre .... something. my review contains minor spoilers - nothing that will give away major plot developments- but still i feel i should give you a heads up in case you are a stickler about spoilers.

about 100 pages in ... I would say I am curious. curious to see how the two paths -the two storylines- come together. curious to see how it en
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Melanie
This is a story about a young girl who starts life on the doorstep of the Y, abandoned by her Mother right after being born. We taken on a journey of discovery to find out why Shannon's life started at the Y.

There are some squirmy bits in Shannon's life for sure. But there are also some great insights here as well. One quote I particularly liked is "you can really f*** up in your life. You can f*** up and then have things be okay". Life may not be perfect, but it's life and it's what we make of
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Luanne Ollivier
Y is Marjorie Celona's newly released debut novel. I think you're going to be hearing lots more about this author and title.

"Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The quetion we ask over and over. Why?"

And the Y is where the story begins as well - the YMCA in a town on Vancouver Island. The Y is where Shannon's mother Yula leaves her when she is a day old, wrapped in a dirty sweatshirt with a Swiss Army knife as her legacy.

As a baby Shannon is shifted through
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Julie
The story has a powerful beginning, and interchanges from Shannon growing up, to a haunting and emotional story of Yula, her birth mother and how Shannon ended up where she was. I found this book to be a beautiful and haunting read.

I loved how there were two different stories and it interchanged from chapter to chapter. It worked out wonderfully for this novel. I found that I was completely immersed in Yula's story and how she got to the point in the beginning of the book. The author did a wond
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Mj
The book was memorizing, easy to read and very hard to put down. I would describe this fiction as a social commentary, psychological mystery and memoir all rolled into one.

This book was at times difficult to read in a good way - the hurt, isolation, wondering and longing shared by the primary character was that palpable. Y is primarily about Shannon and is written in her first person narrative. Shannon reflects and shares her experiences, emotions and private thoughts on the past, present and f
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Brianna
I liked this book. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year, when I received it as part of the goodreads first reads program, but other books I wanted to read "more" just kept coming up. I'm not sure why I picked it up this past week, but I am glad I finally did.

Overall, I still cant quite pinpoint why I liked the book. The story and its progression kept me interested throughout, and I wanted to read more about Shannon and her strangeness, as well as the events preceding her birth, a
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Shilpa
Rarely does a book come along that intricately weaves the tale of two characters so beautifully, while managing to keep them distinctly separate. Y is a story about family, individuality, heartache, perseverance, and the decisions faced in life.

The story begins with the discovery of a newborn baby, Shannon, on the steps of the YMCA. As you fervently move through the pages of Y, you are constantly faced with the question “why”. The voice of Shannon, the foster child, touches at a heart string. B
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Just A. Bean
Slow going at first, as the author kept piling on terrible things to happen: She's abandoned at birth, AND she's bounced around foster homes, AND she's disabled, AND she's sexually abused, AND she's bullied at school. Plus her mom's story was also horrifying. By the time I was about half way though and she'd run off to Vancouver and gotten into all kinds of trouble I was going :/ at the book, and wondering if I should give up before she became a drug addicted prostitute in the downtown east side ...more
Lindsey
The beginning is what made me want to read this book.

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."

Sounds interesting...right...it was but it was also sad.

A newborn baby left on the steps of a YMCA in only her mothers gray sweatshirt. Only thing on her a Swiss Army knife. Found by a man starts her journey through foster care until the age 5 when she is adopted. First she is Shandi then Shannon then Sa
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Pamela Detlor
“y,” by Marjorie Celona, is a well-written book which drew me in right away. The separate storylines of Shannon, a baby left at the YMCA, and her mother, who fled the scene, thread together seamlessly.

Through the hardships of living in foster care Shannon is left damaged and filled with questions. Abandonment can leave a person so emotionally vacant that they aren’t able to see the good in themselves and those around them. Shannon craves a feeling of belonging and the answer to how one human ca
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Sarah (Workaday Reads)
This was a sad tragic story told in a poetic and lyrical manner. It was full of beautiful flowing descriptions and intense feelings.

Told in alternating chapters, we learn both Shannon’s life story and what happened to her mother to cause her to leave Shannon on the steps on the YMCA. I preferred the mother’s story over Shannon’s. I found Yula’s life to be interesting, and quite different from what Shannon imagined it to be.

I wasn’t very impressed with Shannon. Her behaviour was annoying and her
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Blake
Wow. Just, wow. This is the best book I've read in a year or two.

Set on an island off the coast of Vancouver in British CoIumbia, this is the story of a girl, Shannon, abandoned at a YMCA at birth, and the story of her mother, Yula, and the circumstances that led to the abandonment. Chapters alternate between the two stories, and in the end, they converge. That simplistic structure and the straightforward delivery of plot allow for plenty of spot-on observation of the details of the lives of Yu
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Petra
I enjoyed this book. Yet, I find it a hard story to review.
Shannon is abandoned at birth, goes through a few foster homes and is adopted. Even after adoption, she's part of the social services program. She feels like an outsider. She wants to find out where she came from.
The story is well told and interspersed with the story of her parents in the time before her birth. Some things are a bit far-fetched but could possibly occur; for example, Shannon, at 17, has the sweatshirt she was swaddled i
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Sandra
A powerful and compelling read for me. A search for a past by a child given up at birth told in the child's voice and then the mother's story, much of it from the perspective of the child. A fascinating cinematic cast of characters, Shannon-Jo, Harrison Church, her father, Eugene, her brother, Yula her mother and Quinn, Yula's father,several sets of foster parents, Miranda, the mother after Shannon turns five, Vaughn who saw Yula abandon Shannon, Lydia-Rose, Miranda's birth daughter, plus an arr ...more
Miss
If it wasn't so damned depressing I'd probably give this a 5.

I read this in about 12hrs so that should be an indicator of how intense a read this is!

Gritty, compelling, acidic story of a girl abandoned as a newborn - navigating her way through foster care & searching for her parents.

Even more hard hitting as it's set in Victoria & lists so many familiar places & types. The brief visit to downtown Vancouver was horrid -- a dangerous, hopeless place in many ways - I was dreading what c
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Tipsy Lit Writers: April's Book 11 30 May 03, 2013 08:44AM  
Tipsy Lit Writers: Umm...woops. 7 7 Apr 28, 2013 05:44PM  
Tipsy Lit Writers: Discussion: Y 5 11 Apr 23, 2013 09:05AM  
Tipsy Lit Writers: Hey, remember that time I actually ran a book club? 2 11 Apr 15, 2013 06:00AM  
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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 Ailene Barger Barnes Prize. Her stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Glimmer Train, and Harvard Review. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, she lives in Cincinnati.
More about Marjorie Celona...
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 Six Shorts 2014: The finalists for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award Simon & Schuster 2013 Fiction Sampler

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“Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over.” 14 likes
“She was fierce, quick to anger, her temper terrifying and unpredictable, her words deeply damaging when she wanted them to be. Because she had almost no need for people, she had no trouble hurting them. It seemed to enlarge her, give her strength. Quinn told her she had "poison blood".” 8 likes
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