Christal's Reviews > Annabel

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
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Mar 04, 2012

liked it
Read in February, 2012

This is the story of Wayne/Annabel, a child born a true hermaphrodite in the 70s when medicine and it's ways were still not quite up to great standards, and certainly not in the backwoods area that is the setting for this tale, in Labrador.

I picked the book up from the look of the cover, it was being featured and I've always considered androgyny to actually be quite beautiful so I was drawn to the cover. When I picked it up it was being compared to Middlesex (which I have but have not yet read at this time) and the author is Canadian, and I've had pretty good success with works from Canadian authors. So I took a chance and I am so glad I did. I couldn't put the book down, it's been less than a week and I am already done.

When I first got the book I truly thought this would only be about the journey of Wayne/Annabel Blakely, and a hard one at that. I had no idea I would also be getting the story of his/her parents, the midwife who delivered the child and kept their secret, and his best childhood friend. I was disappointed at first, I wanted nothing more than to delve into Wayne/Annabel's psyche and never return, but as I kept on I realized how right the author was to follow them as well since they were a source of so many facets of life that surround a person living with a medical condition such as this and their integration with the rest of society... or lack there of since they live in a town with less than 500 people it seems.

The story was not horrifically graphic, but it did not shy away from the facts or medical conditions that come up. and I loved that Winter didn't exaggerate the condition into Wayne becoming just a drag queen or going for a sex operation, intent on letting his female self take over. He/she was truly both female and male, indulged both sides and did not regret being raised fully male. Wayne/Annabel is finally content on just being the androgynous persona that he/she is, allowing both to co-exist, and marveling at how easily he can blend in with the whole of normal society (which would be the late 80s/early 90s at this point) as long as he is himself and does not draw attention.

I truly want to rate this more along the lines of a 3.4/3.6 stars, but when push comes to shove I did wind up wanting more than the author was willing to give so that bumped it down to a 3 on Shelfari instead of going up to 4 stars. Def one of my favorites, I will looking out for more by this author.
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