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Childhood: A Novel
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Childhood: A Novel

3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  160 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Now in paperback, the winner of the Chapters/Best First Novel in Canada Award and the corecipient (with Alice Munro) of Canada's prestigious Trillium Award.

Set in the 1950s and '60s, this picaresque novel chronicles the childhood-or perhaps the loss of childhood-of Thomas MacMillan, a Canadian with ties to Trinidad, who pieces together, from memory and from related stories
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 15th 2000 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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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
Kevin M
I hate that I never find this book on the Canadian Best shelf at Chapters. It definitely belongs there.
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
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
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.
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.
Christopher Wakefield
Quirky but eminently enjoyable. I have Pastorale on order.
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.
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.
Phase Reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another book for looking at Canadian history through a literary lens.
Katie M.
Odd but not totally unappealing.
Amber marked it as to-read
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André Alexis was born in Trinidad in 1957 and grew up in Canada. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Chapter/Books in Canada First Novel Award, shared the Trillium Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Rogers Communications Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. He lives in Toronto and is at work on his next novel, Asylum, and his first children's novel. In addition, Alexis wrote and host ...more
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