Hamish Hamilton Canada|August 28, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-670-06637-7
Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wine grass. 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 grey sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife. 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. Yula spends her days caring for her bitter widowed father and her spirited toddler Eugene until the day she meets Harrison, a man who will protect her but also a man with a dark past and stories yet to be revealed. Soon they are expecting a daughter but as Yula goes into labour, she and Harrison are caught in a tragic series of events that will destroy their family and test their limits of compassion and sacrifice. 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.
Y is a compelling look at one young girl’s fight to find the birthmother who abandoned her on the front step of the YMCA on the day she was born. Wrapped in a dirty grey sweatshirt with a Swiss Army knife tucked in as something to remember her by.
The story of Shannon is somewhat sad as she is, like a lot of adopted children, shunted from foster home to foster home and suffers abuse at the hands of some of her caregivers until she finds a real family in Miranda, a single Mom and her own daughter Lydia-Rose. Although Lydia-Rose has a difficult time adjusting to having Shannon in their home and is sometimes means to her and treats her with disdain, as they grow they eventually find their place beside each other as sisters should.
As Shannon gets older her need to know who her family really is becomes more and more important to her. Who is her mother? Does she look like her. What about her father? What about the man who found her on the steps that day? She eventually tracks down, Vaughn, the man who saw her birthmother, Yula, place her on the steps all those years ago. She befriends Vaughn and they spend quite a bit of time together doing various things and discussing the day she was left and Shannon’s desire to find her family. Vaughn tells her that she must be honest with Miranda, the woman has raised her. Together, Vaughn, Shannon, and Lydia-Rose set out on a journey that will change all their lives.
Meanwhile, Yula has been dedicating her life to her bitter widowed father and caring for her young toddler son, Eugene. Then she meets Harrison, a man who will love her but also a man with a very checkered past and he is responsible for a devastating tragedy in Yula’s life that can never be undone.
Although we discover some of the answers we wanted to know by the end of the book, I would have liked a couple more chapters to explain a few others things, but I suppose those are left up to our imaginations. I read this book in two afternoons as I just couldn’t put it down. Well done!