** Winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour **
The sad, tender, and extremely funny memoir of a boyhood few thought he would survive, including the unforgettable mother and hilarious grandmother who raised him
A book to be relished by lovers of such works as The Glass Castle, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, and Angela's Ashes
Everything readers love about consummate storyteller and beloved bestselling novelist Wayne Johnston's work is on full display in Jennie’s Boy: incredible characters, brilliant language, and a deep sense of place.
Wayne Johnston’s family — his mother, father, and three brothers — were always on the move. The year he turned eight, the most memorable year of an unusual childhood, they found themselves occupying a wreck of a house in the community his mother Jennie was from: Goulds, Newfoundland was not so much a place as a scattering of homes along an unpaved road.
Everyone knew him as “Jennie’s boy,” and his tiny, ferocious mother felt judged for Wayne’s sickly, skinny condition — he had to spend much of his time in a bed on wheels that was moved from room to room. While his brothers went off to school, Wayne passed his days with his witty, eccentric maternal grandmother, Lucy, whose son Leonard had died at the age of seven and whose photo stood alongside a statue of the Blessed Virgin.
Jennie's Boy recalls a boyhood full of pain, laughter, tenderness, and the kind of wit for which Newfoundlanders are known. By that wit, and by their love for each other — so often expressed in the most unloving ways — he, and they, survived.
About the Author
Widely acclaimed for his magical weaving of fact and fiction, his masterful plotting and his gift for both description and character, Wayne Johnston's many novels include The Custodian of Paradise, The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which was a finalist for sixteen Canadian and international awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and which won the New York Public Libraries Prize for Best Novel and was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the Ten Best Books of the year. Baltimore's Mansion, a memoir about his father and grandfather, won the inaugural Charles Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction.
**Winner of the Stephen Leacocock Memorial Award for Humor**
"While the book’s most apt comparison is likely Frank McCourt’s story of his Irish childhood in Limerick, “Angela’s Ashes,” “Jennie’s Boy” is, if anything, even more powerful: a compressed, restrained account of a life lived on the edge, not only in poverty, but at the cusp of mortality. A simple fishing trip, for example, becomes a near-tragic event, a life-shaping incident depicted with an emotional directness. Never overblown or sentimental, “Jennie’s Boy” is as vivid as one’s own memories, a glimpse into a past of pain and wonder, of loss and joy." — Toronto Star
"Beautifully written, Jennie's Boy is an excellent example of narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention and doesn't let go until the book's apposite ending." — Booklist (starred review)
"Johnston recounts his childhood with affection and humor. Happily, and somewhat miraculously, he grew up to be a healthy adult. A tender memoir." — Kirkus Reviews
“Jennie’s Boy is a warm memoir that recalls a childhood year filled with difficulties, but also a family’s love.” — Foreword Reviews
"All I have ever done," Wayne Johnston writes in Jennie's Boy, his account of growing up dirt-poor in Newfoundland, "is repeat what I was told." Be grateful for that: the result is a story so vibrant and detailed you don't read it so much as you race along and relive it, blow by staggering blow. The man is incapable of writing a dull sentence. The Johnstons of Newfoundland are poorer than Steinbeck's Joads, funnier than the McCourts of Angela's Ashes, and every bit as worthy as material. Which makes sense: there was no place on earth quite like bottomed-out Newfoundland, and there is no better book about it than this one. A brilliant and unforgettable story told by one of the masters of Canadian literature. — Ian Brown
“I have been a Wayne Johnston fan since my teens. His books are the ones that showed me that my own backyard was worth writing about. In Jennie’s Boy, a glorious tale of bedmobiles and jug baths drawn from his own life, he showed me what was behind closed doors just up the road from me. Like the best Newfoundland storytellers do, he made me laugh and then pause to think of how we can find love and joy in a most untraditional childhood.” — Alan Doyle
“Wayne Johnston’s childhood in Newfoundland was full of laughter, pain and poverty. And then laughter again. His memoir, Jennie’s Boy, is an uplifting account of a childhood not just survived—he came close to death too many times to count—but triumphed over. Thank god he lived to tell the tale.” — Rick Mercer