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Childhood

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  227 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Uniquely imagined and vividly evoked, André Alexis’s prize-winning novel chronicles the childhood – or perhaps the loss of childhood – of Thomas MacMillan, who sets out to piece together the early years of his life. Raised in a Southern Ontario town in the ’50s and ’60s, Thomas is abandoned to the care of his eccentric Trinidadian grandmother. Then, at ten, his mother, Kat ...more
265 pages
Published 1998 by McClelland & Stewart Inc.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jennifer
Jan 08, 2017 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that there is something to be said for an author who can so easily manage to take me on a journey between the past and the present. Andre Alexis is very clever at it. The honesty and maturity of the novel made for a very delightful, although short and somewhat sad, read.
I loved the use of poetry and the almost charming quality that the author gave Thomas MacMillan(his main character) as he is remembering his childhood as an older person. The remembrance of an unusual childhood f
...more
Allison
Jul 03, 2009 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canadian
To put it as succinctly as possible, I thought the writing in this book was great, the characters were unlikeable, and the story was annoying. Tom is dumped on his cantankerous, volatile grandmother as a baby, experiences a loveless childhood until her death, when his mother Katarina returns to reclaim him. He then experiences a confusing adolescence with his mother and Henry Wing, a gentle and peculiar man who adores his mother and gives Tom free reign in his large library and laboratory. Tom n ...more
Erika
Mar 05, 2013 Erika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Although slow at times, this novel was touching and beautifully written. At certain times, I found myself wondering what the plot of the story was, as I often do in "reminiscing" novels. However, there were many philosophical ideas and a story of growth, which I found interesting. I wouldn't recommend this book to readers who love action-thrilled novels that make you keep turning the page for hours on end, but if you would like some gentle reading and thinking about life, then definitely read th ...more
Shonna Froebel
Difficult read
Kevin M
Oct 06, 2010 Kevin M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, canadian
I hate that I never find this book on the Canadian Best shelf at Chapters. It definitely belongs there.
Yolanda Miller
May 30, 2017 Yolanda Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas MacMillan Closed Off From the World, But It’s Just His Childhood


Andre Alexis Trinidadian-born, winner of the Trillium Award debuts: long and tragic memories of growing up. In a Southern Ontario town in the 1950s and 1960s, Thomas Macmillan, a book-loving boy begins exploring love as he watches the lives of his parents Katarina and Henry slip away.
Through his descriptive diary-like journal, he introduces his family. Edna MacMillan, Thomas's erratic grandmother; her mood is so unpredicta
...more
Marlene
Jun 11, 2017 Marlene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very well written but I lost interest at less than half the book
Julie
While I enjoyed aspects of the book, and thought it was a great coming of age story, in the end I felt that there was something missing from the book to set it aside from others of its kind.

The author was original in a sense in how he told the story, separating it into sections that reflect school subjects, which in a sense, reflected that section of the protagonist's childhood and experiences. Which I found to be clever. I also enjoyed the connection between the Thomas and Henry, the role-mode
...more
Sidewalk_Sotol
Oct 22, 2009 Sidewalk_Sotol rated it liked it
A boy growing up in the Canadian countryside. A mother who appears out of nowhere. Ottawa. An eccentric, but amateur academic and guardian.

Told from the perspective of Trinidadian-Canadian Thomas McMillan, a man who tries to make sense of his mother and of the unusual man who was her lover with only fleeting and sometimes unreliable memories. Somehow, the author spends pages writing about emptiness and makes it all seem interesting.
Vontel
Sep 27, 2016 Vontel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to read this book, one of Andre Alexis's early ones. I don't know how close it might be to resembling autobiography, or purely fiction. Even trying to read it over a long period of time, it didn't engage me as his newer books such as "Pastoral" and "Fifteen Dogs" have. I ended up skipping a portion in the middle, to see if there was more compelling reading later on. I don't know if I will return to the book at another time. I intend to continue reading his new books.
Micha
This book got more enjoyable after meeting the author and learning some of the tricks from it. Like how he constantly fears that he is "falling into poetry" when he is at his most scientific, but then you learn that the whole book is structured like a sonnet with fourteen chapters, the final word of each chapter rhyming in accordance with the sonnet structure. Sorry, but that is bad-ass in my books.
Tifany
Jan 08, 2017 Tifany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. He has some writing skill but I found the effort disjointed and rambling and I couldn't identify with anyone but his grandmother. I enjoyed the scant Trinidadian references because I have several friends from that culture. Otherwise a waste of my time. Apparently his later works are accoladed. Try those perhaps- I however won't bother. It seems nowadays all you have to do to be considered CanLit canon is write about a lesser known Canadian town. Disappointed.
Lis
Jul 26, 2016 Lis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Lovely writing -- and though not an action-packed plot, I couldn't put it down. I started it at bedtime, thinking just to read a bit : I ended up finishing the book. His characters, including the boy narrator, are so finely portrayed that you feel you have encountered them (though much about every one remains somewhat mysterious.)
Nicole
Jul 11, 2012 Nicole rated it it was ok
I came away from reading this book feeling like not much really happened. It's not that I didn't like the book. I had no issues with the writer's writing style and I did find myself interested enough to keep reading (save for a few paragraphs where I just skimmed through). I just felt like the story itself was missing something.
Chose Bine
Les mémoires imaginaires d'un Trinidadien qui a grandi dans une petite ville de l'Ontario, avec sa grand-mère, avant que sa mère revienne le chercher pour l'emmener avec elle à Ottawa. Beaucoup d'analyse psychologique. Je me suis ennuyé un peu à différents moments, mais le récit m'a suffisamment intéressé pour que je le finisse.
Fay
Jun 06, 2013 Fay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think this book knew what it wanted to be (much like a child). The style shifted, so did the perspective (who's talking the child or the reminiscing adult?). There was no plot really, it was mostly about the relationship of child and mother/grandmother/father figure. Actually, it was mostly questions about his mother.
Not sure about this book. It was well written but lacked cohesion.
Jennifer
I wanted to give this 4 stars until the last quarter of the book. I don't know what changed my mind but in the end I just wondered what the heck it was about even though I laughed out loud in spots and enjoyed the philosophical musings. I would read more by this author.
Mauberley
I came to this after Fifteen Dogs (which I loved) and Pastoral (which I didn't). This is a wonderful, deeply meditative (and fictional) memoir that I read over a weekend with a hungry pleasure. Mr Alexis is a wonderful novelist and I look forward to reading more of his work.
erika
Dec 30, 2015 erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Slow, almost plotless, sad and meditative, but beautiful, for all of that.
Melissa
Another book for looking at Canadian history through a literary lens.
Christopher Wakefield
Quirky but eminently enjoyable. I have Pastorale on order.
Esther Welch
Thought it was going to be so much better than it turned out to be. It's one of those "so that's it?" at the end.
Fran
Aug 24, 2012 Fran rated it really liked it
I read this book several years ago and enjoyed the perspective on the narrator's eccentric life in South(western) Ontario. I enjoyed the grandmother and the strange journey to Ottawa.
Katie M.
Oct 21, 2009 Katie M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Odd but not totally unappealing.
Buchdoktor
Buchdoktor rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2013
Samir Mahfouz
Samir Mahfouz rated it really liked it
Oct 29, 2014
Katherine
Katherine rated it liked it
Jun 25, 2007
Donna
Donna rated it liked it
Jun 06, 2015
Eve (Bee) Beltane
Eve (Bee) Beltane rated it really liked it
Jun 23, 2013
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André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Pastoral (nominated for t ...more
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