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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,180 ratings  ·  628 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 begins the story of Shannon, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the YMCA, swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife. She is found moments later by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubl
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Hamish Hamilton
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,180 ratings  ·  628 reviews

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Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Cheryl by: Susan
Shelves: fiction, victoria, bc, canadian
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
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Steven Langdon
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family
The book starts with Shannon describing how she was abandoned as a newborn on the steps of the YMCA just before it hoped at 5AM. Shannon is the narrator. She tells us her story and that of her parents that led to her being abandoned. Neither story is bright and sunny but ultimately Shannon's life is better for her mother's decision. Shannon has three foster families before she is five and moves in with Miranda and her daughter Lydia-Rose. She is very lucky to end up with Miranda. She has issues ...more
Joy (joyous reads)
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oh-canada
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
Casee Marie
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Beth Browne
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Phan Yến
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Book Mitch
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada, first-nations
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
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled with this book, Marjorie Celona had a great coming of age story-line however I did not enjoy Shannon's character. She definitely had my sympathies, coming from such a difficult start in life, however I thought that she took her problems and became angry about them and lashed out at people who cared. She was adopted by Miranda but there were times when she went out of her way to push Miranda's and Lydia-Rose's buttons. She thought of herself as being an outsider in their family ...more
Thaarane Sethunathan
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Celona was able to show character growth throughout this coming of age novel with her protagonist, Shannon. You saw the actions she committed and understood that what she was jumping to do wasn't always the safest decision or most rational one. Yet, while seeing her motives of confusion and disparity behind it, you are exposed to her vulnerability as she gets older and more desperate to find out answers that everyone in her life refuses to answer.

I found myself feeling overprotective over Shann
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was very different what everything that I have ever read before, I have never read anything with a "point of view" quite like this, it was different. The main character Shannon was very interesting seeing her many different homes and all the hardships she has been through like they were nothing. Although Shannon has a very negative view on life I think its very understandable after all she has been through. I also believe that many of Shannon's actions were justified such as ...more
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very interesting read. Shannon who is the main character I found was written and described very well. With her being a foster child I feel that the way she acted was very appropriate for the situation that she is in. Shannon grows a lot through out this novel as a person, she learns to make her own decisions and create her own future with the information that she had. She learns to be herself and work towards finding her family.
Katie Addison
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, even more than I expected to. I finished it in 2 days. The characters seem so full and real and imperfect, and the story took me on a journey of unexpected emotions. I thought I would give this book 4 stars until I reached the end of part two, at which point the strength of my emotional reaction and shock at a surprising and sad twist changed my mind. It earned all five stars.
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marjorie Celona shed a light on circumstances that people come across in life that can affect them in different ways through the articulate writings of Y. The novel portrays a sense of finding yourself through the journey one goes through in their life. In this, Shannon’s character is seen as one that demonstrates growth into making her own decisions for her future. Right from the start, Shannon’s life has been a roller coaster. Throughout the novel, she struggled with who she is and and how to ...more
Jocelyn H
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oof, this book is remarkable!
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Y is a very unique and descriptive novel. Marjorie Celona has put her abilities of descriptive writing to great use. While reading this novel, it easy to put yourself in the shoes of the main character and relate to her feelings and emotions towards the struggles she faces in life just because she was abandoned. The main and most important actions the main character takes, really explains how she is feeling, and I completely support the actions and decisions she took in her journey to find her t ...more
Jordana Guilmette
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OMG so sad!! But so good. It read like a memoir til the end by then they had wrap it up.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Y is a unique book set in British Columbia, Canada. The story is about a baby abandoned by her mother in front of a YMCA and found by a peculiar male. This child grows up to be a young girl named Shannon who is trying to find herself. She comes to an age where she questions people around her and why she was abandoned. I see Shannon as curious, brave, lost, and conflicted. I think her rash actions are the result of not knowing where she comes from. Her curious soul takes it upon itself to figure ...more
Kara Toews
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely incredible. Every single sentence is crafted with perfection, with the appropriate amount of time to make it so. This is the type of writing I strive towards as an MA student. The Canadian literature cannon is lucky to have Celona. The story line is raw and honest. You won’t regret reading this beautiful novel.
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 throu
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Marjorie Celona’s debut novel, Y, won France's Grand Prix Littéraire de l'Héroïne and was nominated for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Marjorie has published work in The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Sunday Times, and elsewhere. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Marjorie teache ...more

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“Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over.” 30 likes
That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? Me with my arms outstretched, feet in first position. The chromosome half of us don't have. Second to last in the alphabet: almost there. Coupled with an L, let's make an adverb. A modest X, legs closed. Y or N? Yes, of course. Upside-down peace sign. Little bird tracks in the sand.

Y, a Greet letter, joined the Latin alphabet after the Romans conquered Greece in the first century -- a double agent: consonant and vowel. No one used adverbs before then, and no one was happy.”
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