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Extended Audio Sample Y: A Novel, by Marjorie Celona Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (961 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marjorie Celona Narrator: Erin Moo Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“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 opens Marjorie Celona’s highly acclaimed and exquisitely rendered debut about a wise-beyond-her-years foster child abandoned as a newborn on the doorstep of the local YMCA. Swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife tucked between her feet, little Shannon is discovered by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. That morning, all three lives are forever changed.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures abuse and neglect until she finally finds stability with Miranda, a kind but no-nonsense single mother with a free-spirited daughter of her own. Yet Shannon defines life on her own terms, refusing to settle down, and never stops longing to uncover her roots—especially the stubborn question of why her mother would abandon her on the day she was born.

Brilliantly and hauntingly interwoven with Shannon’s story is the tale of her mother, Yula, a girl herself who is facing a desperate fate in the hours and days leading up to Shannon’s birth. As past and present converge, Y tells an unforgettable story of identity, inheritance, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Celona’s ravishingly beautiful novel offers a deeply affecting look at the choices we make and what it means to be a family, and it marks the debut of a magnificent new voice in contemporary fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Celona adroitly confounds many of our expectations…[She] is compassionate toward even her most wayward characters, figuring wisely that the consequences of their actions will be punishment enough…It’s refreshing to read a novel in which questions are not so much answered as extended, and Shannon is an appealing narrator, partly because she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, at least not for long, or blame others for her struggles.”

    New York Times

  • Y is a beautiful, moving book that explores what it takes to belong from a new author with a voice that is bold, sure footed, and confident.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “A gorgeous, moving debut…[Shannon] emerges as a character of enormous strength, a survivor who is unflappably honest about her shortcomings…Celona writes with acute sensitivity to how a child sees her world [and] renders a character readers will love in all her glorious self-doubt.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A feat of storytelling. It will leave you raw but softened, carrying a brutal reminder that family is both made and given, something we must endure and embrace.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A double-strand novel about a Vancouver Island foundling and the young mother who left her on the steps of the Y…Celona pulls off this sleight-of-narrative in blunt, tamped-down prose that is worthy of comparison to [Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina]. The scenes are swift and clear, the transitions are well-cued and the reader’s sympathies adhere easily to Shannon’s lonely, stubborn efforts to squirm into a safe place in the world.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Thoughtfully redemptive.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “An effervescent debut…A meditation on loss, identity, and family, Y showcases a tenacious young writer as she schools us in compassion and ultimately cleans house.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • Selected for the January 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” in January 2013
  • Shortlisted for the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Lesa Parnham | 2/12/2014

    " Not sure what to think, t was all over the place and didn't engage me, when it takes me this long to read a book it is not a good thing "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Paul | 1/25/2014

    " definitely reads like a Colum McCann novel (in a good way)...was really impressed throughout most of the book. brought the pain and then some. alternating mother/daughter chapters and perspectives kept me interested. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Laurie | 1/21/2014

    " I found this to be a quiet book, not a lot of high drama, even when the events could have been told that way, like when her foster father beat her. The book itself takes on the emotional style of the child; mostly quiet and watchful, waiting to see whether the developing circumstances turn out to be good or bad. When she allows herself a moment of breaking out of that passivity, it turns out to be unpleasant enough to send her back to her default mode. The part of the final section in which Shannon and her family are reunited with her bio mom was most interesting to me for her foster mother's assessment of Shannon's characteristics, her strengths and weaknesses. It's the kind of stuff most 17 year olds would take offense at, but Shannon just accepts it, actually with pleasure, realizing that Miranda had actually been paying so much attention to her. The other thing I enjoyed very much was the description of Vancouver Island, and Shannon's little field trip to the seedier areas of the city of Vancouver. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bree Hobgood | 1/16/2014

    " This book was wonderful. You learn within the first few sentences that the book is narrated by a young woman who was abandoned at a YMCA when she was a few hours old. This is her story of finding herself, finding family, and growing up. Books like this can often be either too tragic or too saccharine. This book was neither and a highly recommend it. "

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About the Author

Marjorie Celona received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the John C. Schupes fellowship. Her stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Glimmer Train, and Harvard Review. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, she lives in Cincinnati.