Tremendously sad and well written, Annabel is a story about a hermaphrodite raised as the boy Wayne in remote eastern Canada. The characters had such depth, particularly Wayne and his father Treadway. Actually I found many of the characters fascinating--the family friend Thomasina as well as Wayne's friend Wally. But I dearly loved Wayne/Annabel, and had to choke back tears several times reading about his lonely plight.
There were two instances my jaw dropped reading this story. One was an act of unspeakable cruelty by Wayne's father Treadway. I was so angry at Treadway, and it speaks to the author's talent that she made me want to forgive him eventually,understanding Treadway was doing the best he could. The other shocking incident was when a medical condition occurs as a result of Wayne's hermaphroditism.
The Canadian wilderness was a character of its own in this story. Treadway leaves for months at a time to set his traplines. The families live off the earth, and as a result they seem very down to earth. I think I would freeze my ass
off living there but not once do they complain about the cold.
Some memorable quotes:Wayne loved Wally in the way that children can love each other only in that flickering window when they no longer play with toys but are not fully sexual.
(p.113)A child's worry is not like an adult's. It gnawed deep, and was so unnecessary. Why did people not realize children could withstand the truth? Why did adults insist on filling children with the deceptions their own parents had laid on them, when surely they remembered how it had felt to lie in bed and cry over fears no one had bothered to help them face.
The book jacket compared this novel to Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides, but I liked Annabel
so much better.