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Jonny Appleseed

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  11,561 ratings  ·  1,510 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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Sylviae Edgerton I am one quarter in and I find this book has troubling sexualized references and a lot of sexual slurs and language that could be difficult for some r…moreI am one quarter in and I find this book has troubling sexualized references and a lot of sexual slurs and language that could be difficult for some readers. It is not warm and fuzzy nor is it romantic or seductive. Crass at times, poetic at others, and sometimes both at the same time. The main character being two-spirited is not what is hard to read, it is the harsh reality of a person being seen as a sexual commodity and the stereotypes that are played out for the benefit of clients that I find so heartbreaking. There is a lot of familial love and strength but a general lack of resources in the nurturing for the coming of age characters in their sexual and emotional development. It very well might reflect a reality for some communities or people, so it has it's place.(less)
cait It was to set the tone for how Jonny's life would progress. As indigiqueer/two spirit growing up on the rez, he finds himself engulfed in an endless c…moreIt was to set the tone for how Jonny's life would progress. As indigiqueer/two spirit growing up on the rez, he finds himself engulfed in an endless cycle of quiet misery and abject poverty. He is a sex worker and seems to value himself very little beyond that.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  11,561 ratings  ·  1,510 reviews

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Lala BooksandLala
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was just the slice of life narrative I really dig.

Book 15 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, 2018-read
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 Tias 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 ...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, 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 loved
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so chuffed that Joshua Whitehead won the Gay Fiction category in the 2019 Lambda Literary Awards! Hugely deserved. And kudos to Arsenal Pulp Press for bagging additional awards for Lesbian Fiction (The Tiger Flu) and Transgender Fiction (Little Fish).

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
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.
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
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
I think that I wasn’t the targeted audience for this book.
It does not matter how much I enjoyed the writing style, but I did not care for the storyline and I thought that it was pointless.
I know that this book was nominated for several prizes and won Canada Reads, and for that I had huge expectations.
I was extremely disappointed.
I was expecting a groundbreaking LGBTQ drama.
I think that this is the first time that I read a book about a two-spirited First Nation’s character.
But clearly it wasn’t
Larry H
Jul 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'll put it simply: Joshua Whitehead's Jonny Appleseed is such a vibrant, beautiful read.

I saw some Bookstagram friends reading this a few months ago and I was intrigued, but when my friend Lindsay bought me a copy I couldn’t wait to read it. This is such a unique, gorgeously written queer book which really opened my eyes to what it’s like growing up as a queer Native American.

Jonny is a two-spirit/Indigiqueer young man who is currently living and trying to make it in the big city, away from
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: can-con, 2018, 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 save
Tyler  Bell
Jul 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.25/5 Stars

Raw, emotional and beautiful!

I saw this book making its rounds online here on Goodreads and on Instagram and it really intrigued me. I was at the bookstore about a week ago and saw it front and centre as I walked in. Right then and there I decided to take it off the shelf and buy and read it immediately. Definitely was the right decision!

This is a very special novel. It follows an Indigenous, Two-Spirit, and queer person named Jonny Appleseed as he recounts moments in his life li
Mar 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Jonny Appleseed is a two-sprit, full-metal indigiqueer, NDN glitter princess who leaves the Rez to make his way in the 'peg hustling as a cybersex worker. He's getting men off online, whether they're closeted and curious, or nourishing some connection to idealized Native sensibilities and the spiritual connection they believe Indigenous people have to the land, or simply want to explore some Village People Indian fetish, Jonny deals with them all. Even more so now as he tries to make enough mone ...more
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is not much plot here, but I enjoyed the rawness of the writing and the depth of the character enough that the lack of plot wasn’t a big issue for me. It is a story about a queer, indigenous youth trying to find a way through the poverty, racism, and homophobia in his life. Loved the writing and the author did a great job reading this. I also loved the way the character showed his deep respect and fondness for the women in his life.
Darryl Suite
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Just wow. Ever read a novel that felt almost too real?? This is how I felt about this book. It all feels so true, I wonder if this story is autobiographical. That doesn't matter tbh. Natural, beautiful, and made up of all the messiness and chaos of real life. I can't wait to reread this one day. 

"Funny how an NDN 'love you' sounds more like, 'I'm in pain with you.'"
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2021, mar-21
I read this novel for Canada Reads 2021.
The theme this year is "One Book To Transport Us" and I felt this story certainly did that.
Jonny Appleseed tells his own powerful story! He is a young Two Spirit/Indigiqueer who becomes a cybersex worker once he leaves the reserve, to live in the big city. His story is one of love, sex, trauma, family, ambition and the touching memories of his beloved kokum (grandmother).
His youthful resilience was captivating and his unique story will stay with me for a
The story of a young, gay, First Nations Canadian man who works as a prostitute, and what it was like growing up gay on a reservation. I think it was pretty forgettable.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Parts of this book were beautiful and much of the writing was superb but it lacked structure and I often felt like, as a reader, I was being tossed around among a number of different storylines without any landmarks or clues to help knit together the chronology of the events. Portions of this book were likely difficult and harsh on purpose but I felt the work as a whole would have been more powerful if it had been more coherent. It read as a stream of conscious self-reflection piece.
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
A coming of self story of living as a two-spirit indigenous person in Canada. I really liked this one, although "like" makes light of all Jonny moves through in the world as a sex worker, as two-spirit, as queer, as indigenous, of the ways they deals with anti-indigenous people in the white world and with homophobic people in their indigenous community, and how the apocalyptic nature of the past continues to influence and inflect the preset. But despite all this, Jonny is still here, and still s ...more
Richard Derus
#CanadaReads2021 winner! Congrats!
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
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
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.
Oct 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was perfect, I loved it, and you should read [listen to] it.

In the acknowledgements, the author states there were two things he learned in writing the novel-
1) A good story is always a healing ceremony.
2) If we animate our pain, it becomes something we can make love to.

If that doesn't make you want to read it, I will just say...

While the protagonist may not have had the best lot in life and certainly had some trauma to work through, his story is approached with a heavy dose of humor- height
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Jonny Appleseed was a long-list nominee one high profile Canadian fiction award list and a shortlist nominee on another. Given the minimal number of nominations on these lists and the wealth of talented authors in Canada, this double nomination got my attention, especially since Jonny Appleseed is Joshua Whitehead’s debut novel.

The book is fiction but reads like a memoir - one of my favourite genres. Both the primary fictional character and the author are two-spirited indigenous individuals. Bas
Sep 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonny, a young Two-Spirit queer Indigenous person, leaves the rez to make a life for himself in the city as a sex worker. The book has impeccable writing - is poetic but also crass, at times. The first-person narrative and how graphic the book is make the story very powerful.

I wasn't really expecting to like this book at all - it has a graphic sexual opening that threw me back. And though these types of scenes kept on coming, my feeling troubled and uncomfortable was not because of the sex itse
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. ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gad damn.

What the hell am I going to read after this book?
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, social-justice
Wow, I am so glad to know Jonny and everyone he loves! From his Kokum (grandmother), mom, to Tias his lover...

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead is a candid coming-of-age tale of bold queer trickster experiences and at times, sexually explicit. With much humor and heart-rending reflections of family, Jonny is a storyteller who dances forward and back in time as he reveals his struggles and triumphs—sprinkled with many pop culture references. Also semi-autobiographical, a powerful homage to the
George K. Ilsley
A powerful fiction debut. I first met Jonny in the pages of Malahat, and was very pleased to see he was going to be able to roam through 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. Strong debut novel from a new voice.

Update March 11, 2021 — this book just won this year’s Canada Reads competition. Congrats to Joshua Whitehead and Arsenal Pulp Press!
Canadian Reader
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
I read to page 30 and found the book too raw and graphic to persist with.
emma griffioen!
Jun 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
this book was SO good, and i am so happy i read it!

in my opinion it was definitely more of a character driven story, but i really connected to and loved the characters! i was really drawn to tias, and i loved jonnys relationship with his kokum.

my only comment would be that it’s a 220 page book, which would normally take me a day to read, but the pacing felt kind of slow, even though it was really short chapters!

one of my favourite quotes was on the last page: “when i look back at these old ph
MissBecka Gee
Joshua Whitehead has a brazen style of writing that I am here for!
Completely open and remorseless in his storytelling.
He delivered the most beautiful writing, in some of the most disturbing moments.
I cannot wait to read more of his work!
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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

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