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  • Jennie's Boy

  • A Newfoundland Childhood
  • Written by: Wayne Johnston
  • Narrated by: Wayne Johnston
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)
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Jennie's Boy

Written by: Wayne Johnston
Narrated by: Wayne Johnston
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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE CBC

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 back­handed 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.

©2023 Wayne Johnston (P)2023 Knopf Canada

What the critics say

"“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

Stunning. . . . A compressed, restrained account of a life lived on the edge, not only in poverty, but at the cusp of mortality. . . . 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

What listeners say about Jennie's Boy

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It made me laugh and cry.

Absolutely loved it! Wayne it shows how strong you were to overcome it all! You could of succumbed to all the negative but saw the good in there and came out amazing!

Very happy that you narrated the story as you are a calm speaker which made it better then if someone else narrated it and had put inflections. Your calmness made me feel your side of the events in your eye's.

Absolutely wonderful writing, as always. I am never disappointed!

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Wow! What a story.

This book made me laugh, cringe and cry. I loved it!
I am so glad Wayne Johnston survived his childhood.

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Wonderful!

This was a bookclub pick, and I ended up loving it. I’m now telling everyone else to read it!!

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