Annabel by Kathleen Winter (2010)
“Wayne Blake was born at the beginning of March, during the first signs of spring breakup of the ice – a time of great importance to Labradorians who hunted duck for food – and he was born, like most children in that place in 1968, surrounded by women his mother had known all married life: Joan Martin, Eliza Goudie and Thomasina Baikie. Women who knew how to ice-fish and sew caribou hide moccasins and stack wood in a pile that would not fall down when their husbands walked the traplines. Women who would know, during any normal birth, what was required.”
Wayne is not like any other newborn babies, he has a testicle, a penis, a vagina and labia. When they have to choose, his father decides that they should make him into a boy and he raises Wayne as a boy. But Thomasina, who was present at the birth, after the loss of her husband and daughter, calls Wayne for Annabel, her dead daughter’s name, when no one is around.
Wayne’s father is a man who knows everything about surviving in the wild, but he is not good at communicating with the people around him. He watches his son in fear that he turns too girly, while his mother wants Wayne to know the truth. She helps him buying and hiding a swimsuit when he falls in love with synchronised swimming.
I really enjoyed this book, mainly because the way it connects people and nature. Although sometimes the ramblings about the Labrador wilderness interfere too much with the main story, there was one part in the book where I thought get to the bloody point. But luckily it was just in one place in the book. And of course the fact that it is about hermaphrodites, something I have only come across once before in books, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. And I’m glad that I didn’t see any similarity between them. Both are amazing in their own way. (Note to self: another book I need to reread.)
And there was one point in the book where everything seemed so dark for poor Wayne and I had no possible idea how it all would turn out. And I think that was my favourite part.