7984373I need to read more prize winners.  Annabel, like Still Alice before it, was phenomenal.

Set completely in the Maritimes, mostly Labrador, Annabel is the story of a hermaphrodite child born in a small town with a strong hunter/gatherer culture and clearly defined gender roles.  A culture that is also largely patriarichal.

Young Wayne was born with both male and female sex organs, and this is his story of him growing up as a boy with ‘female’ desires, being fed a variety of pills to subdue his female side, with a father who does his best to treat him as a the son he wanted and a mother who tried to let both sides of him flourish.

Needless to say, his life is long and complicated.  He doesn’t find out the truth about his own body until he hits puberty and has his first period.

Annabel I think is best described as a journey of self discovery, both emotional and physical.  The best thing about Wayne’s life is that both his parents love him and try their best to do right by him in their own ways, supporting him in almost every decision he makes.  Including the one where he decides to stop taking the estrogen dampening pills and let his body grow and develop as naturall as possible.  That was my favorite part.

So since we’re doing so well with the award winners, lets move onto another one.  A Good House by Bonnie Burnard.

1148316In Canadian short-story writer Bonnie Burnard’s deeply moving novel, we meet the Chambers family: Bill and Sylvia and their three children, an ordinary family from Ontario. Beginning in 1949, we follow the Chambers for the next fifty years through the many joys and disappointments of their lives: a childhood accident, a tragic illness ending in death, and a remarriage for Bill. Some of the children choose a traditional route, marrying and having children of their own. One forges her own very new path. The clan expands and changes; marriages fail and careers bloom. But despite the heart-aches and difficulties each member of the family faces, there is never a lack of love to be found. With writing so clear and crisp it rings with honesty and grace, Burnard’s characters work their way under your skin and into your heart-an auspicious debut.

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