“Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y.” So begins the latest book I’ve been enjoying, “Y” by Marjorie Celona.
The story is told by Shannon who was abandoned as a newborn by her troubled young mother on the steps of the local YMCA. She was swaddled in her mother’s dirty sweatshirt and had a Swiss Army knife nestled in by her feet. A random man, Vaughn, witnesses the young girl placing the baby on the doorstep from his car.
Shannon was shuffled from foster home to foster home until she was taken in permanently by single mum Miranda and her daughter Lydia-Rose at the age of five. She remained with Miranda and Lydia-Rose who gave her a good humble home, despite Shannon’s restlessness.
Shannon grows up knowing that she was abandoned and longs to know the story of her parents. Where did she come from? Who were they? Why, oh why did they abandon her?
In “Y” by Marjorie Celona, Shannon tells her childhood story, but she also narrates the chapters telling the backstory of her parents. Her language carries an innocence and honesty that draws you in and makes you want to know more. She tells us about her lazy eye that can’t see and her blonde Afro hair (who did she inherit that from?).
Shannon’s birth mother, Yula, is a fascinating character with her own set of troubles. By the end of the book my heart ached for Yula. She was so young and vulnerable and with good intentions. The book develops Yula’s character really well and I love the way her story was told by her daughter Shannon.
In her quest to uncover the mysteries of her origin, Shannon finds Vaughn and together they form a unique friendship. Because he witnessed Shannon’s abandonment he too is curious as to the circumstances surrounding it. He becomes Shannon’s accomplice and someone she can count on when things get tough.
This book is a profound look at family, belonging, forgiveness and gratitude. I thoroughly enjoyed it.