Annabel is a beautiful story of a hermaphrodite child growing up in a small town in Canada. The book details the internal struggles and acceptance of the child and the parents. Jacinta Blake gives birth to an inter-sexed child in a small village in Labrador, Canada in 1968. While her husband, Treadway is out trapping as usually does for most of the year, Jacinta's friend Thomasina is the only other person present. While Jacinta and Thomasina want to let the child live as it has been naturally born, when Treadway comes home he decides that the child will be raised as a boy. They name him Wayne.
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Jacinta struggles with decision and reluctantly takes Wayne into the hospital as baby to have surgery in order to make him more like a boy. This is also followed by massive concoction of hormones that he will have to continue to take for his entire life
Thomasina lost her husband and daughter, Annabel, while they were out on a canoe trip and comes to secretly called Wayne by the name Annabel when just the two of them are together. Both Wayne and Thomasina become quite close. Thomasina tells him about the world and reads him stories. Thomasina eventually leaves the village to pursue some education and becomes Wayne's teacher.
When Wayne is a young boy, he complains of bloating and pain in his abdomen. Thomasina, despite not being able to contact his parents, takes him to the hospital. This action results with her being fired from her teaching job in which she leaves the village again to travel Europe. While at the hospital, Treadway is able to be there. They learn that the bloating that Wayne is experiencing is actually an accumulation of menstrual blood that has built up and because he has had surgery, he has nowhere for it to drain. The doctors drain the blood and increase his hormones. The event is horrifying for Thomasina and Treadway as there is something else that has occurred but they dare not tell Jacinta or Wayne at this time.
Jacinta and Treadway's relationship gets distant and Jacinta becomes depressed. After Thomasina leaves, there is no one else that knows her son's secret. Thomasina keeps in contact with Wayne through postcards.
Wayne grows up to be a well-rounded kid, being completely unaware that he is different. At one point, he asks for a bathing suit similar to one that he sees synchronized swimmers wearing on TV. Treadway doesn't approve at all so Jacinta buys it for Wayne in secret.
At school Wayne befriends a girl named Wally. She wants to be an opera singer. The two of them become immensely close and spend time singing together in a fort bridge that Wayne built. His father is wary of the relationship and wants Wayne to act more like the other boys do. He destroys the bridge one night without Wayne or Wally's knowledge. After this incident, Wally distances herself from Wayne. Treadway feels remorse for this act and replaces, in secret, all of the sheet music that Wally lost.
As teenagers, Wayne and Wally go to a party with some other kids at their school. At this party, Wally's vocal cords become damaged in an accident. Devastated that she cannot follow her dream Wally stops talking to Wayne.
Wayne has another incident as a teenager at the hospital in which all is revealed to him. What was also kept from him previously was the fact that when he first had his menstrual blood drained, he was also pregnant. He is a perfect hermaphrodite, which means he his 50% male and 50% female, which is extremely rare. This means that his body has the capacity to impregnate himself.
Wayne decides to leave home to find himself. He eventually decides to undo the surgery done to him and to come off his hormone medication completely. Wayne undergoes some major physical changes and no without notice to the other townspeople. He eventually confesses what he is to one of his co-workers, which was a huge mistake and as a result some of the people he worked with took him out back one day, beat, and raped him out of curiosity and cruelty. Wayne tells his father all of this and his father, who has been somewhat cold to him, becomes paternal and finally starts to accept and love his son for who he is. He comes to visit with the intention of causing harm to the person who perpetrated the attack on Wayne.
Jacinta is relieved that Wayne is finally able to be what he was born to be. She has both a son and a daughter and the relief of the secret comes off her shoulders.
Thomasina writes to Wayne and confesses that she knew about him all along and tells him about calling him, Annabel. Wayne is accepting of this and is pleased to be called this by her.
Wayne eventually becomes reunited with Wally with the some help from Thomasina. Wally undergoes surgery to repair her vocal cords. She may not become an opera singer but she can now at least sing. Wayne tells her what he is and she is not phased but happy to reunite with him.
In the end, with the secret finally out and with Wayne accepting of who he is the family is able to reconcile.
Best scene in story:
The scene when Jacinta takes Wayne in as a baby to have surgery. Jacinta considers running away but a nurse spots her and is extremely kind to her.
Opinion about the main character:
Wayne goes through so much as a character and has experiences that not many could fathom yet he handles them with grace and love.