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Y [Paperback]

Marjorie Celona
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Jan 2014

Why would a mother give up her daughter?

Can abandonment ever be an act of love?

And could you ever forgive her?

'My life begins at the Y...' Abandoned as a newborn at the doors of the local YMCA and then bounced between foster homes, Shannon eventually finds stability in the home of Miranda, a single mother with a daughter of her own. But as Shannon grows, so do her questions. Will she ever belong? Who is her true family? And why would her parents abandon Shannon on the day she was born?

The answers lie in the heartrending tale of her mother, a headstrong young woman trapped in a tragic series of events that will destroy her family and test the limits of her compassion and sacrifice.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (2 Jan 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0571305474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571305476
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marjorie Celona received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the John C. Schupes Fellowship. In recent years, she has been the Olive B. O'Connor Fellow at Colgate University and writer-in-residence at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harvard Review, Glimmer Train, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. Born and raised on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more info, visit marjoriecelona.com or http://www.facebook.com/MarjorieCelonaAuthor

Product Description


A beautiful, moving book that explores what it takes to belong. (Evie Wyld, Guardian)

A sharp and compassionate exploration of the split nature of decisions. (Sunday Times)

Compassionate and keenly observed ... Celona's well-judged conclusion does indeed fill the heart to bursting. (Daily Mail)

An evocative look into what makes a family, and what makes a home, and how they are undeniably helixed together. (Colum McCann)

A heartfelt first novel ... Celona is compassionate toward even her most wayward characters. (New York Times)

While Shannon is a heartbreaking character, Y is a warming story sprinkled with humour, forming the perfect canvas to interrogate big questions. (Psychologies)

Stunning. (Globe and Mail)

An effervescent debut . . . . A meditation on loss, identity, and family, Y showcases a tenacious young writer as she schools us in compassion. (O Magazine)

Splendid. (Toronto Star)

A wee baby girl is left behind and even before she opens her eyes, she begins to describe her extraordinary world. Y is filled with heartbreaking loss and flawed heroes yet Celona's writing is filled with grace and compassion. (Heather O'Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals)

Thoughtfully redemptive. (Wall Street Journal)

A gorgeous, moving debut...[Celona] renders a character readers will love in all her glorious self-doubt. (Boston Globe)

Enthralling. (Quill and Quire)

A feat of storytelling. It will leave you raw but softened, carrying a brutal reminder that family is both made and given, something we must endure and embrace. (Dallas News)

Y is the story of humanity's first question: Who am I? This novel tells a pain-filled, utterly essential quest to know who one's family is. There is Oedipus. There is Pip. Now there is Shannon, compelled to search through unbearable secrets and trauma. The style is accomplished, the voice hauntingly matter-of-fact. (Kim Echlin, author of The Disappeared)

Compelling...This is at once a moving coming-of-age story full of fresh starts, a haunting family story full of heavy disappointments, and an extraordinarily quiet story full of hope. (Booklist)

As a newborn, Shannon is abandoned at the local "Y"-and then spends much of her young life asking "Why?" The cards seem stacked against Shannon as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. Celona reconstructs the story with an almost Faulkner-ian complexity [and] writes movingly about basic questions of identity. (Kirkus Starred Review)

Book Description

Marjorie Celona's debut is a heartbreaking and compassionate story of sacrifice and love, which introduces readers to unforgettable characters and a brilliant new literary voice.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars because 6 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the story of a girl who is eventually named Shannon, though she is thinking of changing her name. She was born to an 18-year-old mother who managed to lose her nearly three-year-old son the day before giving birth. Not an auspicious start to life for this tiny baby who is then abandoned outside a YMCA.
This beautifully written story tells us about Shannon's childhood and adolescence through her own eyes. Alongside this we learn about her natural parents, what happened and why.
After two unsuitable, and in one case abusive, foster placements and a spell in a children's home Shannon is eventually adopted into a loving but materially poor home. She is always restless and unsettled, though, and naturally curious about her origins.
I enjoyed this book very much, finding the events realistic and believable, particularly the conclusion. The descriptions, including mundane cityscapes and the Vancouver Island rainforest provided the narrative with satisfying context. I will definitely read subsequent books by Marjorie Celona.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book 9 Jan 2013
Y is the story of Shannon, a girl in search of her own identity. The book is written from the point of view of the protagonist herself and while we follow her story we also learn about the story of her own mother.
The title is not a coincidence. We learn about the "whys": why we need to know who we are and why, in certain circumstances, a mother would arrive at the decision to abandon her own child.
The book is beautifully written, the characters and the whole story feel very real and there is no judgement or condemnation when talking about sensitive issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story! 6 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book it is a sad story well told with empathy and compassion. I wiil read it again and again...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and interesting idea, but a little slow 11 July 2013
By Malfi
Y kept me mildly interested until the end of the book. It was a nice construct, with the stories of the two women growing towards each other, enough to keep the reader's interest alive. The characters felt very real and there was a sense of redemption throughout which was touching. This being said, the book was slow and in my opinion it could have been shorter without losing anything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving story well told 25 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Insightful book on the trials and tribulations of a young girl growing up in care. Sad bits, funny bits but very moving
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings 28 Jan 2013
Shannon's life begins at the Y. Abandoned when only hours old she spends her early years in one unsuitable foster home after another, the victim of abuse and unloved. Finally, she finds a home with Miranda and her daughter, and although she is offered stability and a place in a family, Shannon can never settle.

Shannon has so many questions, and they all start with Y. Why was she abandoned on the steps of the YMCA? Why did her Mother do that? And another question; Who are her family?

At the age of sixteen, Shannon decides it is time to find some answers. With the answers, she discovers the truly sad and desperate story of her parents.

Y is very unusually written and follows two narratives, the first being Shannon's own story from her conception through to young Adulthood. The other narrative follows the few days before Shannon's birth, concentrating on her mother Yula (another Y) and the terrible events that lead up to the birth. The first-person narrative of Shannon is often complex and a little difficult to follow, it's quite hard to believe that these are the thoughts of a new-born baby, a toddler, a child and then a young adult.

Don't expect a heart-warming or uplifting story. Y is bleak, very bleak. Shannon is the stereotypical mis-fit child who finds it difficult to interact with anyone of her own age. The brief glimpses of sunshine come only when she meets Vaughn much later in her life. Shannon experiences the very darkest underbelly of society, she feels no self-worth and allows herself to stay a victim for most of her life.

There is no doubt that Majorie Celona is a very talented writer and has created some very strong characters and a very unusual and quite different plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping book 26 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found the book very exciting could not put it down. The ending was very surprising and I did not expect it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Y by Marjorie Celona 17 Oct 2013
By Jenny
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It will tug at your heart at times as you go on the journey with the young girl, looking for the answer.... Y.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year 2013!
I found this on the Oprah Winfrey book club list and was enthralled from page 1!
I love the narration which covers the lives of the 2 main characters up to a point and then... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. D. Jones
Could not put this one down!
Talk about cry your eyes out!
These characters will stay with you - who doesn't need a Vaughn in their lives? Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ainsley B.
4.0 out of 5 stars A struggle to find peace
A child left at the Y. Her life from then passed from pillar to post until she is finally placed in the care of Miranda and her daughter Lisa Rose. Read more
Published 14 months ago by elais
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and moving
'Y' tells the story of a baby girl eventually named Shannon and her life from when she was abandoned in front of a YMCA shelter by her mother to age seventeen. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Justhavingfun
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but sometimes uncomfortable reading
Shannon is not the easier character to like but you can't help getting drawn into her world. Well written book about a young girl trying to understand your place in the world.
Published 15 months ago by SKM99
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay
Didn't live up to the positive recommendations that I had read prior to purchasing the novel. Interesting premise, just not brilliantly executed.
Published 15 months ago by H. A. Davey
3.0 out of 5 stars What actually happened?
I didn't feel as though there was much of a story here. So much more could have been going on. It dragged for me, but I persevered and finished the book. It didn't float my boat.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. E. Webb
3.0 out of 5 stars We should be encouraged
I know as a father that sometimes I get frustrated at my son for asking why all of the time, we should though encourage it and this debut by Marjorie Celona has at its core this... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Pete Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong, intelligent writing
This novel is carefully crafted in the way only these American "Writers' Workshop" graduates can do it, which always guarantees a quality read. Read more
Published 17 months ago by bluefish
4.0 out of 5 stars A book with impact
This book is written in a straightforward tone yet it is still packs emotional power as it tells the story of a teenage girl searching for her family who left her when she was a... Read more
Published 17 months ago by H. W. K. Kiff
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