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Jonny Appleseed

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  612 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"You're gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine" is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter prin ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  612 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read, canada
I've never read anything like this, and I just loved it: Joshua Whitehead wrote a coming-of-age story about Jonny, a young 2SQ (Two-Spirit, queer Indigenous) person who leaves the rez to make a life for himself in the city. There, Jonny is supporting himself as a sex worker and gets caught up in a love triangle with Tia and Jordan who are also Native American (if you want to know their gender, just read the book! :-)). When Jonny's stepfather dies, he has to make enough money to travel back to t ...more
What a beautiful, sad, funny book. It's the most poignant reminder I've had in a while about how powerful and effecting a first person narrative can be. Jonny, the two-spirit main character, carries the book with his raw, hilarious, and insightful voice. The story meanders through his memories, mostly of his kokum, mom, and his great first love Tias, while in the present Jonny prepares to go back to the rez for his mom's boyfriend's funeral.

Favourite quotes:
"Humility is just a humiliation you lo
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently read an article by Jonathan Rauch, Contributing Editor at The Atlantic, entitled ‘It’s Time to Drop the LGBT From LGBTQ’. Rauch’s basic argument is that we need a new term that effectively humanises all sexual minorities, as opposed to reducing them to gloops of alphabet soup.

To some extent, the very artificiality and awkwardness of the acronymic acrobatics speak to their ecumenical aspirations. Unlike designations popularized by oppressors (Negro, Oriental) or based on national or et
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, can-con, indigenous
It turns out that Johnny Appleseed is some American folk legend who became famous by planting apple trees in West Virginia. I didn't understand why we'd sung about him in camp – I wanted to know about Louis Riel, Chief Peguis, and Buffy St. Marie, but instead we were honouring some white man throwing apple seeds in frontier America. Apparently he was this moral martyr figure who remained a virgin in exchange for the promise of two wives in heaven. Oh, and he loved animals, and I heard he saved
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are so many things in this novel that make it beautifully queer. Its 2-spirit protagonist; its nonlinear timeline that intentionally meanders through past stories of family and tradition, trauma and survival; its descriptions of eroticism and the discovery and exploration of sexuality ... I could go on.

Joshua Whitehead is a master of words. There were at least a dozen killer sentences that I felt compelled to highlight as I was reading, particularly because I felt they captured the experie
Some beautiful and poignant writing, and also some very funny lines, in this story about a two-spirited young indigenous man in Winnipeg, trying to earn enough money webcamming to catch a ride back to the rez for a funeral. It felt kind of like a one-man Fringe show in its tone and its focus on the protagonist - I would have appreciated more narrative momentum (and maybe fewer bodily fluids and smells, but hey, that’s me). 2.5.
Shawn Mooney
Sep 04, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
This read like a shitty first draft, alas. There were enough tender, raw sentences scattered throughout the first several chapters to keep me going, mesmerized by a wee bit of evidence of an exciting new voice. But after that, unfortunately, it read like slapdash notes toward a novel rather than fully realized fictional prose—and notes published in haphazard order at that. Bailed 60% of the way in.
Alanna Why
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Like most queer lit, this book is SAD but also GOOD. I really liked the non-linear way it was told and how you really got to know the characters through the vignettes of Jonny's memory. The best part of this book is any scene with Jonny and his kokum because they LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH and it is VERY NICE.
Kat Rogue
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
At times I wanted to throw this book across the room. For good reason! Times when the world was cruel and Joshua Whitehead lays just the right train of thought to make you feel it in your gut. Or times when the throbbing horniness of it makes me feel like the last thing I wanna be holding in my hands at that moment is a book.

Whitehead has a gift for turning pain into pleasure, twisting the bullied moments our glitterprincess survives and making it an integral part of his self awakening. It is n
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stop everything you are doing and read this book. It’s everything I love about Indigenous storytelling. About a young Oji-Cree two spirit Indigequeer NDN in the week leading up to his stepfather’s funeral, this book is a gift. I appreciate the contemporary nature of this book, both in it’s sense of now (the technology, the terminology, what’s current in the world of pop culture), but also in it’s sense of place (it’s the world exactly now, it’s Winnipeg and Peguis exactly now). The other thing a ...more
Laurie Burns
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
Jonny Appleseed is written by Joshua Whitehouse and is on the long list for the Giller Prize at this time. The short list will be announced tomorrow, September 30th, 2018. I have only read three of the long listed books, but I am rooting for Whitehouse. This book is important. 

I just finished reading it and almost started reading it again right away. 

I really like books that are written in this sort of free-verse writtentimeline. I love feeling the emotion of characters and it seeming like I was
Canadian Reader
I read to page 30 and found the book too raw and graphic to persist with.
Adored it. Full video review to come!
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit, lgbtqi2s
A superb spitfire of a book that will surely be a keystone in both Joshua Whitehead's career, Indigenous literature, and two spirit expression. Accessible via the myriad of pop culture allusions included -- we millennials can tune into this perhaps unfamiliar social location through these recognizable shows, songs, characters, foods, etc. in order to get a glimpse at Jonny Appleseed's quest for understanding. Jonny Appleseed is ragged, puncturing, and true to its main character and community.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Who the hell gonna love me now, Kokum? Whose gonna suck the pain from my skin, teach me to love it into humility? Who, Kokum, who?”

This is a powerful book about a Two-Spirit/Indiqueer individual finding his way in a modern world, both on and off the reserve. It is a story of family, love and traditions, as well as a story of sexuality, trauma and survival. It is beautiful and heart wrenching.

“Sometimes I don’t like how life goes on. And sometimes I don’t think it should.”
Elizabeth Chorney-Booth
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is so beautiful.
i think i haven’t read anything that made queer sex this everydaysacred in a long time. i need to reread this one a few times & i’m not mad about it.
Lisa Serrano
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
life described.
Enid Wray
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh how I love Jonny Appleseed. I love the voice. I love the unabiding, unconditional love between Jonny and his Kokum.
I love the lightness… notwithstanding some pretty brutal - horrific - realities… but Whitehead is not beating you over the head with it. He carries you along and prepares you for the deep, dark, painful realities… which are wrapped up in beautiful prose… not to mention incredible magical spirituality and belief systems.
This book broke my heart… but then put it back together aga
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
one of the most perfect novels i’ve ever read. whitehead’s writing is poetic, propulsive, so full of love and queerness. cheeky too!! the feelings they encapsulate are ones i’ve felt so many times but have never seen on a page so perfectly messy. also one of the most real, humane descriptions of sex work i think i’ve ever read. this book hurts but it’s more of a salve than anything. left me a blubbery mess and i turned right back to the first page to go through it all again. so so so beautiful. ...more
George Ilsley
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful fiction debut. I first met Jonny in the pages of Malahat, and was very pleased to see he was to have his own book. Jonny's voice is strong and visceral, and there is a lot going on in this novel. Worth reading and re-reading.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
So many poetic passages.
Wendy Caron
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Heard about this book when the author was interviewed on the CBC program Q and it sounded interesting - a story about the life and loves of a two-spirit/indigiqueer teenager. Whitehead pulls no punches in this gritty, sex-positive novel.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Funny how an NDN "love you" sounds more like, "I'm in pain with you."

I really need to stop reading all these super depressing books.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Oh boy, this is a bit of a stream of consciousness doozy. No real plot, no real story, just a brief foray into somebody's life. In a very good way, though.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-gillers
Such a brilliant novel. Raw and heart breaking. It's disappointing this book didn't make the Giller 2018 short list.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
damn this was beautiful! funny, sad, and intimate. so many wise emotional moments that I want to keep with me forever. really complex characters that were loveable, pained, and sexy.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
4.5 stars. What a voice! The writing is poetic and sublime. So many lines stopped me in my tracks - I had to pause, reread and savour the syntax. Just some astonishingly beautiful writing. Jonny’s relationships with his kokum, his mother, Tias, and Jordan are all compelling and moving. This is more of a character study than a plot-driven novel and it works because Jonny feels like someone knowable and flawed and loveable. Adding Joshua Whitehead to my list of must read authors.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a wonderful novel! Jonny is a young two-spirit indigiqueer NDN trying to make enough money via sex work to get back to Peguis to be there for his mother at his stepfather’s funeral. Through flashbacks we learn about his childhood, his family, his relationship with his beloved kokum (grandmother), his first love, and why he had to leave the rez. Jonny is one of the most lovable characters, so full of life, and the novel is rich in texture and emotion. It deals with tough subjects but my hear ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, lgbtqi, owned
I was hooked by this book as soon as I saw the beadwork bison on the cover -- then when I read the description I ordered it immediately. I mean, who doesn't need a book about an NDN glitter princess?

This book was easily the highlight of my readathon reading. Even at a distance of a few weeks, I'm still crushing on this book too hard to feel like I have very coherent things to say. So I'll just list some thoughts and feels about this book:
* Whitehead's matter-of-fact description of sex work remin
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Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit storyteller and academic from Peguis First Nation on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Indigenous literatures and cultures at the University of Calgary on Treaty 7 territory. His most recent book of poetry, Full-Metal Indigiqueer, was shortlisted for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. In 2016, h ...more
“Funny how an NDN "love you" sounds more like, "I'm in pain with you".” 0 likes
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