In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador in the far north-east of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor, Thomasina.
Annabel is written in a very rich, poetic language, and I think that's the biggest pro of the book. I was touched by many quotes and words coming from the characters, and it's definitively an easy read for anyone, making it thus accessible to a wider public.
I will say though that I wasn't particularly hooked by the story. I was very interested in Wayne's/ Annabel's journey, but I feel like it never really met enlightenment. The characters have, of course, greatly evolved; I was most touched by Wayne's father turn of thoughts and epiphany at the end of the book, and this sudden expressive fatherly love. Yet, when it comes to Wayne, a lot of what I was expecting to see didn't really happen; he does not clearly declare himself either male or female, yet keeps living on as a man. Instead he spiritually accepts himself as both gender, and although that is perfectly reasonable and fine and cannot be argued as a plot's flaw (and could even rather be seen as the most rational conclusion to such a existential dilemma), it did not touch me a whole much. Maybe it was the lack of drama that didn't quite make it up to me, the lack of tension and the fact the Wayne sort of... went on with the flow.
Annabel is not a bad book; it's arguably great and even won a prize. It personally didn't do it for me, and I even let go off it for a few weeks before picking it up again. I also feel that I would have liked the story more if it was about a female relating more to masculinity rather than a male relating more to femininity. Would I be wrong saying that male going female cases are more spoken of rather than female going male cases?
Annabel by Kathleen Winter