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Jonny Appleseed

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,964 ratings  ·  311 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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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  1,964 ratings  ·  311 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, 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 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
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 save
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.
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 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 (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.
31st Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist

It was like reading a poem. Heartbreaking storytelling, a colorful mosaic of beautiful prose and raw reality, fragments of touching memories and tender spirituality, funny and sad at once.

A very impressive debut novel.
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.
George K. 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 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.
Daniel Justice
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal work--raw, unflinching, poignant, hilarious, and deeply moving. I enjoyed it as a reader and as a teacher of Indigenous literature, and it's one of my students' favourite reads. Highly recommended.
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.
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gad damn.

What the hell am I going to read after this book?
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jonny, our narrator, is a two-spirited young man living in Winnipeg, where he moved after his youth on the Peguis Reservation in central Manitoba. He's also a self-styled NDN glitter princess, and he makes his money as a cam boy. The action of the book takes place over a few days, when Jonny finds out his stepfather has died, and he needs to make enough money to pay his rent and get back to the reservation for the funeral, but much of the book consists of flashbacks and memories of Jonny's exper ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5* rounded up.

I had been dragging my heels to read this as part of Read Harder 2019 task #18. Instead I found a book I loved and a character that was unique, real, a little too raw at times and an “NDN glitter princess”.
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
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately charmed by Jonny, and while I sometimes struggled to keep the intertwined present and past storylines in order, I was so interested in his journey and immersed in the reading experience. One of my favorite aspects was the description of intimacy between family, as well as friends/lovers. Seeing people show physical love to reach other was done so beautifully in this book again and again.⁣
Cdn Reader (Inactive)
I read to page 30 and found the book too raw and graphic to persist with.
Alex Johnson
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: klc-summer-2020
In the language of Rudine Sims Bishop, this book was a window for me—straight, cis, white immigrant living on stolen land. Jonny Appleseed is an exploration of Two-Spirit/indigiqueer life, jumping from present to past to trace Jonny's upbringing. While there is trauma here and his life is nowhere near easy, Jonny is accepted and loved for who he is by the most important people in his life.

This novel reminded me of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous in its singular character focus, queer coming of a
Carolyn Klassen
An Own Voices perspective we rarely see in indigenous literature, let alone books by non-indigenous folx. A complex protagonist who you really root for, you want him to succeed and be happy. Whitehead never shames his protagonist for sex work nor glorifies it. It's an honest way to make money and some people need cash. And there is no shame in it. An unflinching look at the life of a Two-Spirit sex worker who loves his kokum and his best friend.

It read almost like a memoir with the way it was l
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-twenties, qtbipoc
Wily, tenacious, erotic. Generous and ripped open. Gratitude to Joshua Whitehead for writing such a momentous, excavating, intimate, humourous, and hungry novel.

There were several scenes that seared themselves into my memory: Kokum's porcupine lesson, night swimming with Tias, Jordan slamming down an expired coupon on the McDonald’s counter with that look on her face. The prose in these scenes clicked perfectly. In general, I though Whitehead’s writing was beautiful and raw, though I felt that
Kurt Ostrow
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I am my own best medicine.

Truth be told, I did need a lot of healing throughout my teen years...They'd cuddle me at night and then kick me out in the morning, denying any closeness and blaming it all on the drink. Truth be told, I think I was more of a leech than they were. I loved the burning hot flesh of brown skin turning red from tension and friction. I loved seeing the blood throb in their veins, popping like earthworms on their forearms and wrists—blood that said I'm surviving and you can
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I’d like to give this three and a half, almost 4. Not quite.

I enjoyed the voice of Jonny; I felt his story. I did not always love the way he told it. Style more than anything. It meandered so much, that when I read the back synopsis again halfway through — saw that his goal was to get home for a funeral — I was surprised. I’d forgotten all about that.

But I think there’s something special about the book as a series of vignettes. There is something very genuine here. It had palpable authenticity
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.”
Hasan Namir
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book from Joshua Whitehead beautifully written with an interesting non-linear narrative that never loses power. A page-turner as I couldn’t put the book down and completed it in a very short period of time. It’s queer indigenous writing at its best and hope to read more works from him in the future.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Jonny Appleseed was a longlist nominatee on a high profile Canadian fiction award 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. Based
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
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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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