Annabel

( 26 )

Overview

Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife,...

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Overview

Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Isolated as Croyden Harbour may be from the social upheaval of 1968, the tiny village on the southeast Labrador coast plays host to its own revolution in Winter's sincere, self-serious debut. Jacinta and Treadway Blake are like any other couple in town--he's away on the trapline all winter, she's confined to domestic life. But the clarity of traditional gender roles begins to unravel when Jacinta gives birth to a hermaphrodite. Both Treadway and the local doctor decide the baby will be brought up as a boy--he's named Wayne, and his female genitalia are sewn shut. Meanwhile, Jacinta's friend Thomasina, quietly tends to the spiritual development of the child's female identity. Kept in the dark about his condition for most of his childhood, Wayne struggles to live up to the manly standards imposed by his well-meaning if curmudgeonly father, but when adolescence rolls around, Wayne's body reveals a number of surprises and becomes a battleground of physiology, identity, and sexual discovery. Though delivered at times with a heavy hand, the novel's moral of acceptance and understanding is sure to win Winter many fans. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
—A New York Times Editors’ Choice
—A Kirkus Reviews 2011 Top 25 Best in Fiction title
—Short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction, Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
—Finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
—Winner of the Independent Literary GLBTQ Award
—A Quill & Quire Top Book of the Year
—A #1 Macleans best seller

“Utterly original . . . A haunting story of family, identity, and the universal yearning to belong.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

“[Winter’s] lyrical voice and her crystalline landscape are enchanting.”—The New Yorker

“Absorbing, earnest . . . Beautifully written.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Affecting . . . Winter possesses a rare blend of lyrical brilliance, descriptive power, and psychological and philosophical insight. Her way with fate and sadness recalls The World According to Garp, without the cute irony. A compelling, gracefully written novel about mixed gender that sheds insight as surely as it rejects sensationalism. This book announces the arrival of a major writer.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A novel about secrets and silences . . . What Winter has achieved here is no less a miracle than the fact of Wayne’s birth. Read it because it’s a story told with sensitivity to language that compels to the last page, and read it because it asks the most existential of questions. Stripped of the trappings of gender, Winter asks, what are we?”—The Globe and Mail

“Stunning . . . Annabel is less about gender divides and more about the gossamer lines that connect one to another. A book like this, its topic and beautiful language, the unrelenting sorrow, Winter’s insightful characterizations and utter sensitivity, is difficult to do justice to with these few words. I simply want to tell people: read this book. Read it though you know little or nothing about its subject or the author. It will open you up. It will change you.”—The Ottawa Citizen

“Beautifully observed . . . Reminiscent of Middlesex, Winter’s treatment of such a delicate issue is amazing and incredibly engaging. Her novel is written with immense sensitivity and grace, not to be missed.”—Bay Area Reporter

“[A] beautiful novel . . . Lyrical . . . [Winter] captures the way children simultaneously understand and don’t understand, the way parents simultaneously protect and harm their children, the way the truth both imprisons us and sets us free. She embodies these paradoxes and breathes new life into them. . . . Annabel is a novel that evokes deep emotion . . . Simple, touching, real, absolutely convincing and sympathetic in its portrayal of well-intended people in their attempts to deal with a person who defies the most basic categorization: the first question we ask when we hear a baby has been born.”—The Rumpus

“A beautiful book, lyrical and compelling . . . Annabel's strength lies in probing the dilemma of sexuality and self-knowledge. I have never read such an intimate portrait of a person struggling to live inside a self that the world sees as a dreadful mistake.”—The National Post (Canada)

“Sincere . . . The novel’s moral of acceptance and understanding is sure to win Winter many fans.”—Publishers Weekly

“[An] aching tale of . . . identity, acceptance and family. . . . Fluid and poised . . . Annabel is a stunning and stirring debut that signals the long-overdue arrival of a literary talent.”—The Chronicle Herald

“An astounding achievement . . . Remarkably lucid and forthright . . . Wonderfully exhilarating . . . In Winter’s deft hands, Labrador becomes a magical land of mystical wildlife and magnetic earth. . . . Finely observed detail and gut-wrenching honesty, together with some rich characters and a perfectly rendered world, make Annabel a rare treat.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“A mesmerizing combination of crisp language, deep empathy for her well-wrought characters, and a world-savvy wisdom. [Winter] delivers her story with a gracefulness that matches the mystique of Labrador and the tenderness required to carry this story . . . showing us the humanity that overrides gender and age, and the basic human traits and desires that unite us all. . . . Destined to be one of the biggest novels out of Newfoundland this year, this is a story of isolation and a communication breakdown that breaks a family down, and breaks the reader down along with them.”—The Telegram (St. John’s, Canada)

“[A] fascinating debut novel . . . Annabel is a novel about divisions, not only between the sexes but also between social classes and, perhaps most crucially, ways of being. . . . Both the fear and the beauty [of Wayne’s condition] are given vivid expression in this finely crafted novel.”—The Star (Toronto)

“Dramatic, thematically rich . . . [with] skillful prose . . . An impressive first novel.”—Quill & Quire

Annabel is a beautiful book, brimming with heart and uncommon wisdom. Life is ambiguity and flux and mystery and Winter has written a gorgeous, searing love-letter to the possibilities that lie just below the surface of the everyday.”—Michael Crummey, author of the Canadian bestseller, River Thieves

Library Journal
Winter's first novel tells the story of an intersex child born in the late 1960s in a small, rural town in Canada and raised as a boy. His parents try to protect Wayne from harm, each in his or her own way; his father tries to interest him in the wilderness skills that men in their community use to make a living, but his mother refuses to discourage his interest in more feminine pursuits. Wayne doesn't learn of his intersexuality until a medical emergency reveals his condition to him. Though he tries to be a boy to fit in, he is preoccupied by the girl that he knows lives within him; he has to leave home and quit his hormone therapy to allow his body to be as ambiguous as he feels inside. Winter's lyrical language contrasts with the characters' discomfort about Wayne's secret. VERDICT Readers interested in literary explorations of gender, such as Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, will appreciate this novel as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]—Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD
Kirkus Reviews

In a remote coastal town in Newfoundland in the 1970s, a young person of mixed gender struggles for identity, acceptance and understanding

Joining a select group of novels including Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex (2002) and Alan Friedman's Hermaphrodeity (1972), Winter's affecting first novel is the story of Wayne Blake, who is subjected to special corrective surgery as a newborn, raised as a boy and given injections and hormone pills to maintain his masculine traits. His mother, Jacinta, a cosmopolitan-minded outsider from the city of St. John's, is torn over quashing his female qualities and interests but wants even less to go against the wishes of his closed-off father, Treadway, a trapper away for months at a time. Only Thomasina, a worldly, free-spirited midwife who privately calls the child Annabel—after the daughter she lost in a freak boating accident that also claimed her husband—asserts that nature should be allowed to take its course: "That baby is all right the way it is. There's enough room in this world." Even as Wayne unhappily goes along with the program, his body asserts its true self, most shockingly when doctors operating on him to release trapped menstrual blood discover a fetus. As Wayne comes of age, he must endure losing his closest friend Wally (a girl), being viciously attacked by bullies after he moves away to attend college and strange looks when he quits the drugs and assumes his natural self. The Montreal-based Winter, a native of Newfoundland, possesses a rare blend of lyrical brilliance, descriptive power and psychological and philosophical insight. Her way with fate and sadness recalls The World According to Garp,without the cute irony.

A compelling, gracefully written novel about mixed gender that sheds insight as surely as it rejects sensationalism. This book announces the arrival of a major writer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802170828
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 661,490
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Winter's Annabel was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, short-listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction, and a finalist for all three of Canada's major literary awards: The Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the 2006 Metcalf-Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, Winter now lives in Montreal.

Visit her blog at kathleenwinter.livejournal.com

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

“Papa!”
The blind man in the canoe is dreaming.
Why would a white caribou come down to Beaver River where the woodland herd lives? Why would she leave the Arctic tundra, where light blazes incandescent, to haunt these shadows? Why would any caribou leave her herd to walk, solitary, thousands of miles? The herd is comfort. The herd is a fabric you can’t cut or tear, passing over the land. If you could see the herd from the sky, if you were a falcon or a king eider, it would appear like softly floating gauze over the face of the snow, no more substantial than a cloud. “We are soft,” the herd whispers. “We have no top teeth. We do not tear flesh. We do not tear at any part of life. We are gentleness itself. Why would any of us break from the herd? Break, apart, separate, these are hard words. The only reason any of us would become one, and not part of the herd, is if she were lost.”

The canoe, floating in a steady pool at the deep middle, has black, calm water around it, with froth floating on top from the foam around and above and below. The white caribou stands still, in a patch of sunlight between black tree trunks, staring at the man and the girl inside the vessel. The moss beneath the caribou’s hooves is white and appears made of the same substance as the animal, whose outlines are barely there, considering the light above and below it. It could have been poured from light itself, and made of light, as if Graham Montague and his daughter have dreamed it into being.

“Papa?” Annabel stands up in the boat. She has been told, from the time before she could walk, not to do this, but she does it. For a moment the canoe stays still, then the girl outstretches her arms toward the enchantment, this caribou that now, she sees, wears a mantle of glittering frost around its shoulders and magnificent chest. In fact there are sparkles of frost throughout its white coat, and she cannot believe her father is both blind and asleep. She cannot believe life would be so unfair that a man could miss such a sight, and she stretches out her hands, which are long, and which her father has loved, and for whose practical industry and fruition he has laboured and hoped, and the canoe capsizes in the river’s calm, deep heart. It flips easily, in an instant. The gun goes down, the provisions float or go down according to their lightness and the waterfastness of their packaging.

Graham Montague has never had to swim, and he does not know how, and neither does Annabel, his daughter.

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

New World

Wayne Blake was born at the beginning of March, during the first signs of spring break-up of the ice — a time of great importance to Labradorians who hunted ducks for food — and he was born, like most children in that place in 1968, surrounded by women his mother had known all her 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 in the months their husbands walked the traplines. Women who would know, during any normal birth, exactly what was required.

The village of Croyden Harbour on the southeast Labrador coast has that magnetic earth all Labrador shares. You sense a striation, a pulse, as the land drinks light and emits a vibration. Sometimes you can see it with your naked eye, stripes of light coming off the land. Not every traveler senses it, but those who do keep looking for it in other places, and they find it nowhere but desert and mesa. A traveler can come from New York and feel it. Explorers, teachers, people who know good, hot coffee and densely printed newspapers, but who want something more fundamental, an injection of new world in their blood. Real new world, not a myth that has led to highways, and more highways, or the low, radioactive buildings that offer pancakes and hamburgers and gasoline on those highways. A traveler can come to Labrador and feel its magnetic energy or not feel it. There has to be a question in the person. The visitor has to be an open circuit, available to the power coming off the land, and not everybody is. And it is the same with a person born in Labrador. Some know, from birth, that their homeland has a respiratory system, that it pulls energy from rock and mountain and water and gravitational activity beyond earth, and that it breathes energy in return. And others don't know it.

Wayne was born, in bathwater, in the house of his parents Treadway and Jacinta Blake. Treadway belonged to Labrador but Jacinta did not. Treadway had kept the traplines of his father and he was magnetized to the rocks, whereas Jacinta had come from St. John's when she was eighteen to teach in the little school in Croydon Harbour, because she thought, before she met Treadway, that it would be an adventure, and that it would enable her to teach in a St. John's school once she had three or four years of experience behind her.

"I would eat a lunch of bread and jam every day," Joan Martin told Eliza and Thomasina as Jacinta went through her fiercest labour pains in the bathtub. Every woman in Croydon Harbour spoke at one time or another of how she might enjoy living on her own. The women indulged in this dream when their husbands had been home from their traplines too long. "I would not need any supper except a couple of boiled eggs, and I'd read a magazine in bed every single night."

"I'd wear the same clothes for a week," Eliza said. "My blue wool pants and gray shirt with my nightie stuffed under them. I would never take off my nightie from September til June. And I would get a cat instead of our dogs, and I would save up for a piano."

The women did not wish away their husbands out of animosity -- it was just that the unendurable winters were all about hauling wood and saving every last piece of marrow and longing for intimacy they imagined would exist when their husbands came home, all the while knowing the intimacy would always be imaginary. Then came brief blasts of summer when fireweed and pitcher plants and bog sundews burst open and gave the air one puff, one tantalizing, scented breath that signaled life could now begin, but it did not begin. The plants were carnivorous. That moment of summer contained desire and fruition and death all in one ravenous gulp, and the women did not jump in. They waited for the moment of summer to expand around them, to expand enough to contain women's lives, and it never did. When Jacinta was not groaning with the mind-stopping agony of having her pelvic bones wrenched apart by the baby that was coming, she too indulged in the dream. "I don't believe I'd stay here at all," she told her friends as she poured scalding coffee from her small enamel pot, her belly as big as a young seal under her blue apron covered in tiny white flowers. "I'd move back to Monkstown Road and if I couldn't get a job teaching I'd get my old job back at the Duckworth Laundry washing white linen for the Newfoundland Hotel."

Thomasina was the only woman who did not indulge. She had not had a father, and she regarded her husband, Graham Montague, with great respect. She had not got over the fact that he could fix anything, that he did not let the house grow cold, that he was the last man to leave for his traplines and the first to come home to her, that he was blind and needed her, or that he had given her Annabel, a red-haired daughter whom she called my bliss and my bee, and who helped her father navigate his canoe now that she was eleven years old and had a head on her as level and judicious as Thomasina's own. Graham was out now, as were all the hunters in Croydon Harbour, on the river in his white canoe, and Annabel was with him. She rode the bow and told him where to steer, though he knew every movement he needed to make with his oar before Annabel told him, since he had travelled the river by listening before she was born and could hear every stone and icepan and stretch of whitewater. He told her stories in the canoe, and her favourite was a true story about the white caribou that had joined the woodland herd, and that her father had encountered only once, as a boy, before he had the accident that blinded him. Annabel looked for the white caribou on every trip, and when Thomasina told her it might not be alive any more, or it might have gone back to its Arctic tribe, her husband turned his face toward her and silently warned her not to stop their daughter from dreaming.

As her baby's head crowned, Jacinta's bathroom brimmed with snow light. Razor clam shells on her windowsill glowed white, and so did the tiles, the porcelain, the shirts of the women and their skin, and whiteness pulsed through her sheer curtains so that the baby's hair and face became a focal point of saturated colour in the white room; goldy-brown hair, red face, black little eyelashes and a red mouth.

Down the hall from Jacinta's birthing room, her kitchen puckered and jounced with wood heat. Treadway dropped caribou cakes in spitting pork fat, scalded his teabag and cut a two-inch thick chunk of partridgeberry loaf. He had no intention of lollygagging in the house during the birth — he was here for his dinner and would slice through Beaver River again in an hour in his white canoe. His hat was white and so were his sealskin coat and canvas pants and his boots. This was how generations of Labrador men had hunted in the spring.

A duck could not tell a white hunter's canoe from an icepan. The canoe, with the hunter reclining in it, slid dangerously through the black water, silently slowing near the flock, whether the flock flew high overhead or rested its fat bellies on the water's skin. Treadway lived for the whiteness and the silence. He could not see with his ears like Graham Montague could, but he could hear, if he emptied himself of all desire, the trickle of spring melt deep inland. He could inhale the medicinal shock of Labrador tea plants with their leathery leaves and orange, furry undersides, and he watched the ways of flight of the ducks, ways which were numerous and which told a hunter what to do. Dips and turns and degrees of speed and hesitation told him exactly when to raise his gun and when to hide it. Their markings were written on the sky as plain as day, and Treadway understood completely how Graham Montague could hit ducks accurately even though he was blind, for he had himself noticed the constant mathematical relationship between the ducks' position and the hollow sweeping sounds their wings made, a different sound for each kind of turning, and their voices that cracked the silence of the land. The movements of the ducks were the white hunter's calligraphy. This was a kind of message younger people had lost, but Treadway was attuned to every line and nuance. There were words for each movement of a duck, and Treadway had learned all of the words from his father. People five years younger than he knew only half the words, but Treadway knew them all, in his speech and in his body. This was how he lived, by the nuances of wild birds over land and water, and by footprints and marks of branches in snow on his trapline, and the part of him that understood these languages detested time in houses. Clocks ticked, and doilies sat on furniture, and stagnant air rushed into his pores and suffocated him. It was not air at all, but suffocating gauze crammed with dust motes, and it was always too warm. If the women dreaming of life without their husbands could have known how he felt, they would not have imagined themselves single with such gaiety. Treadway did not tell this to other men, laughing, over broken buns of hot bread and pots of coffee, but he dreamed it nonetheless. He dreamed living his life over again like that of his great uncle Gaetan Joseph, who had not married, but who had owned a tiny hut one hundred miles along the trapline, equipped with hard bread, flour, split peas, tea, a table made out of a spruce stump with two hundred rings, a seal hide daybed and a tin stove. Treadway would have read and meditated and trapped his animals and cured pelts and studied. Gaetan Joseph had studied Plutarch and Aristotle and Pascal's Pensées, and Treadway had some of his old books in his own trapper's hut, and he had others besides that he read deep into the nights, when he was blessed with the solitude of his trapline. A lot of trappers did this. They left home, they trapped, and they meditated and studied. Treadway was one of them, a man who studied not just words but pathways of wild creatures, pulsations of the northern lights, trajectories of the stars. But he did not know how to study women, or understand the bonds of family life, or achieve any kind of real happiness indoors. There were times he wished he had never been seduced by the pretty nightgowns Jacinta wore, made of such blowsy, insubstantial ribbons and net that they would not have enough strength to hold the smallest ouananiche. The closest thing to these nightgowns in his world outdoors was the fizz of light that hung in a veil around the Pleiades. He had a Bible in his trapper's library, and he remembered his wife's loveliness when he read the lines, Who can bind the sweet influence of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? He read these lines on his hard daybed when he had been away from her for months, and they made him remember her loveliness. But did he ever tell her this? He did not.

Home from the trapline, recovered from all loneliness, Treadway loved his wife because he had promised he would. But the centre of the wilderness called him, and he loved that centre more than any promise. That wild centre was a state of mind, but it had a geographical point as well. The point was in an unnamed lake. Canadian mapmakers had named the lake, but the people who inhabited the Labrador interior had given it a different name, a name that remains a secret. From a whirlpool in the centre of that lake, river water flows in two directions. It flows southeast down to the Beaver River and through Hamilton inlet and past Croydon Harbour into the North Atlantic, and another current flows northwest from the centre, to Ungava Bay. The whirling centre was the birthplace of seasons and smelt and caribou herds and deep knowledge a person could not touch in domesticity. Treadway left this place at the end of the trapping season and faithfully came back to his house, which he had willingly built when he was twenty, but he considered the house to belong to his wife, while the place where waters changed direction belonged to him, and would belong to any son he had.

And now the head of his and Jacinta's first baby glittered beautifully in the white bathroom without him witnessing it, and so did the shoulders, the belly with its cord, the penis, thighs, knees and toes. Thomasina hooked a plug of slime out of the baby's mouth with her pinky, slicked her big hand over face, belly, buttocks, like butter over one of her hot loaves, and slipped the baby back to its mother. It was as the baby latched onto Jacinta's breast that Thomasina caught sight of something slight, flower-like; one testicle had not descended, but there was something else. She waited the eternal instant women wait when a horror jumps out at them. It is an instant men do not use for waiting, an instant that opens a door to life or death. Women look through the opening because something might be alive in there. What Thomasina knew, as she looked through the opening this time, was that something can go wrong, not just with the child in front of you, another woman's child, but with your own child, at any time, no matter how much you love it. Thomasina bent over Jacinta and the baby in a midwife's fashion, a ministering arc, and wrapped a blanket around the child, a cotton blanket that had been washed many times. She did not believe in putting anything new or synthetic next to a newborn's skin. As she adjusted the blanket she quietly moved the one little testicle and saw that the baby also had labia and a vagina. This she took in as Treadway, in another room, threw his teabag in the garbage, as he gave his crust to the dog and clicked shut the front door, as he went out on the last perfect duck hunt of his days, and she let Treadway go. Thomasina asked Eliza and Joan to get the warm towels for Jacinta. She herself handed Jacinta the thick pad to soak the postpartum blood, and helped her into the terrycloth robe that Jacinta would wear for the next few days.

Then she said, "I'm going to ask the others to leave, if it's all right with you. We have something to talk about."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Annabel is incredibly moving. It will touch you, and steal your heart.

    The story is simple. In a small seaside town, a baby is born a hermaphrodite. Jacinta and Treadway must decide how to raise the child. Should they raise a boy, or a girl? As Jacinta holds her baby, she knows deep down, that the baby is a girl; a beautiful daughter whom she feels a deep connection to. But Treadway has always wanted a son, and so the child is named Wayne and raised as a boy. Although this goes against everything Jacinta believes the world to be, she does not voice her feelings and goes along with it. Jacinta's close friend, Thomasina, also the women who helped bring Wayne into the world, knows that the child will have a complicated life down the line. These decisions are never easy ones to make, and although Wayne's parents love him dearly, Thomasina also looks out for him, and supports him in ways his own parents can't. Wayne's parents do not clue him in to what's going on with his body. It's after it becomes medically necessary, that he finds out and it's not even his parents who explain it to him. It's their dear friend, Thomasina. Wayne's struggle to find himself is so painful at times, that I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug. Each character is so vividly drawn and deeply complex and wonderful in their own way. The parents are good parents. Treadway is distant as a father, but he loves his son and he has a deep sense of duty to his family. The decisions he makes, are (in his mind) for the good of the family. I cried for Jacinta. She knew from the moment she held that baby that Wayne should have been Annabel, named after Thomasina's daughter who died with her father in a hunting accident. What I truly appreciate, is that Winter does not shy away from the tough topics. Wayne's upbringing affects the family as a whole, but each member of that family quietly falls apart before they become whole again. Nature vs. Nurture is a huge theme here and you see the devastating effects of both. But what makes this a very hopeful story, are the good friends Wayne meets along the way and the fact that his parents love him. The love they provide is what holds him up. I loved this book. I adored it. My moods continued to shift as I read it and it wasn't until the end that I began to breathe easy again. Annabel is everything that a good book should be and it's a book that everyone should read and discuss.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2012

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    Meh.

    I had high hopes for this book, with all the acclaim that came with it, but I found it tiring and boring. It was an effort to get all the way through it, and was quite anti-climactic. It did tell a lovely coming-of-age and finding-herself hermaphrodite, after having been raised a boy; her story was not shocking, but caring and empathetic. The author wove the story full of imagination so that you could really see the surroundings of the main character. I just felt that it lacked excitement, or even enough drama to keep the book interesting. I thought several times about putting it down but was bound and determined to finish and not be a quitter. Bottom line, I would not recommend this book; there are others out there that are better written, and more enjoyable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2011

    Highly recommended - a thoughtful read

    I was intrigued by the subject, the tensions and the setting. The author has created a highly intriguing novel that I did not want to put down and was disappointed when I finished it. All of the major characters are intriguing in their own right - read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    Warriors den

    *winterstar

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Wonderful read

    I enjoyed reading this book very much. The subject is refreshingly different, the characters come alive, and the content is rich. I cannot believe this was the authors debut! I cannot wait to read more from her. I could go and and on, but instead i will simply say; I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Annabel is an insightful psychological story about differences, differences between people, between environments, between the sexes, between those with vision and those without. I'd recommend it to anyone. I would have given it a 5 star rating if Kathleen Winter hadn't kind of derailed the novel with what I think was a physical impossibility. Aside from a temporary detour from her story about the ability to live with ambiguity, I found the story very realistic, a good portrait of humanity and yearning

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