I’m using this as my “They/She/He” square in CBR13Bingo.
The thesis of this review is: read this book! I’m going to do my best to describe it to you, but Joshua Whitehead’s words are so much more beautiful than anything I can come up with.
This novel is gorgeous!
Johnny is a young, Two-Spirit teenager living on the “rez” near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. And throughout the novel, Johnny tells of his experiences with becoming. With his supportive mother and his beloved kokum (grandmother), he explores who he is, what he wants, and where he fits in the world he occupies. Between his sexual experiences with his friend*, Tias; learning stories from his kokum; living with his mother; running around the rez with his other friends; and living in the city, Johnny has a lot to learn.
This novel is clearly written by a poet. The language is lyrical and imagistic. And the structure of the story isn’t linear or organized by any conventional logic, but you hear parts of the story you need to hear when you need to hear them.
The content is also critically important. I’m a prolific reader, and I haven’t read a representation like Johnny Appleseed which centers Two-Spirit people while also talking about the joys and disappointments of living on a reservation.
So… read this book!