Annabel by Kathleen Winter
The story begins in Croydon Harbour, Newfoundland in 1968. An intersex baby is born to Jacinta and Treadway Blake. Treadway, being an outdoorsman and trapper, makes the decision to raise the baby as a male, and they name him Wayne. The ensuing story of Wayne’s struggle with his identity is approached gently, in spite of my preconception that in such a setting, it could be a very coarse tale of difficulties dealing with a very macho culture. In spite of his masculine approach to life, Treadway eventually realizes that he has to come to terms with Wayne’s condition, and Wayne’s struggle with self determination. Wayne’s mother and best friend are supportive of Wayne but the surrounding society definitely has problems with a boy who resists behaving in a masculine way; his intersex gender does not ‘go away’ in spite of surgeries and hormones. This is a carefully crafted story of both the interior and exterior world of Wayne/Annabel, and how he/she develops into an independent young person, eventually leaving the small town to explore greater acceptance in the larger city. I found it a fascinating story, well written and sympathetic to all of the characters involved. Shannon L.