Jennie's Boy, A Newfoundland Childhood an audiobook narrated by the author, this book was directed by David Ferry. We think listeners will be absolutely gripped by the experience of this sad, tender and at times extremely funny memoir.
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Jennie's Boy, A Newfoundland Childhood
Consummate storyteller and bestselling novelist Wayne Johnston reaches back into his past to bring us a sad, tender and at times extremely funny memoir of his Newfoundland boyhood.
For six months between 1966 and 1967, Wayne Johnston and his family lived in a wreck of a house across from his grandparents in Goulds, Newfoundland. At seven, Wayne was sickly and skinny, unable to keep food down, plagued with insomnia and a relentless cough that no doctor could diagnose, though they had already removed his tonsils, adenoids and appendix. To the neighbours, he was known as "Jennie's boy," a back-handed salute to his tiny, ferocious mother, who felt judged for Wayne's condition at the same time as worried he might never grow up.
Unable to go to school, Wayne spent his days with his witty, religious, deeply eccentric maternal grandmother, Lucy. During these six months of Wayne's childhood, he and Lucy faced two life-or-death crises, and only one of them lived to tell the tale.
Jennie's Boy is Wayne's tribute to a family and a community that were simultaneously fiercely protective of him and fed up with having to make allowances for him. His boyhood was full of pain, yes, but also tenderness and Newfoundland wit. By that wit, and through love-often expressed in the most unloving ways-Wayne survived.
KFAI Radio WriteOn! interview about Jennie's Boy | Jan 24th, 2023:
Advanced Review Issue: January 1, 2023
Jennie's Boy: A Misfit Childhood on an Island of Eccentrics. By Wayne Johnston
Feb. 2023. 320p. Steerforth, paper, $19.95 (9781586423629). 813
By the time he was seven, Wayne had lived in 23 houses, thanks to his father's propensity for
drinking the rent. Finally, the family moves to a glorified shack in Goulds, Newfoundland,
population 300, across the road from Wayne's maternal grandparents, Ned and Lucy. Often
unable to go to school because of his many maladies-a heart murmur, pleurisy, a chronic
cough, and insomnia-Wayne spends his days with his much-loved grandmother, drinking
chocolate Quik and praying at the shrine to the Virgin that Lucy keeps in her bedroom. Well,
Lucy prays, Wayne pretends. Aside from his grandparents, Wayne's family consists of his ofteninebriated father Art, his mother (the eponymous Jennie), who has a pathological fear of what the
neighbors will think, and the four boys: Ken, Craig, the author, and baby brother Brian. Of the
three siblings, bold Craig is the star, often ripping into Wayne ("You spoil everything!") and then,
repenting his anger, tousling Wayne's hair and hugging him so tightly the boy can hardly breathe.
Johnston's affectionate memoir of a year in his young life is a diverting survival story (both his
own and his family's) that proves the quotidian can be compelling. Beautifully written ("Lucy's
eyes were as dark as burnt raisins"), 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.