Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Hardcover, 480 pages
Published March 10th 2011 by Jonathan Cape

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.

The tale of an intersex child growing up into adulthood, Annabel is not the type of book I usually read, and thus it figures as the fresh and original meat of my pile of reads. I think this book is wonderful in the way that it deals with an issue that a lot of people need to relate with; as for if it's actually effective or not, I'm not certain I can entirely argue for or against.

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?

Originality: 9.5
Plot: 8
Characters: 8.5
Writing: 9.5
Cliffhangers: 6

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Rating: 8,3/10

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