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Publisher's Summary

Winner, Lambda Literary Award; Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction

Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction; Amazon Canada First Novel Award; Indigenous Voices Award; Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award; Firecracker Award for Fiction

Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

A tour-de-force debut novel about a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer young man and proud NDN glitter princess who must reckon with his past when he returns home to his reserve.

“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 debut novel by poet Joshua Whitehead. 

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 princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez” - and his former life - to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The seven days that follow are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny's life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages - and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. 

Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of First Nations life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams. 

Bespeak Audio Editions brings Canadian voices to the world with audiobook editions of some of the country’s greatest works of literature, performed by Canadian actors.

©2018 Joshua Whitehead (P)2019 Bespeak Audio Editions

What the critics say

"If we're lucky, we'll find one or two books in a lifetime that change the language of story, that manage to illuminate new curves in the flat vessels of old letters and words. This is one of those books. Jonny Appleseed gifts us with clarity in the shape of sharp, and medicine in the guise of soft - and a sexy, powerful, broken, beautiful hero who has enough capacity in the dent of a clavicle to hold all the tears of his family. This book gives us back the land of curb and field, trailer and ledge, and the community - in all its rusted and complicated glory. Most importantly, this book gifts us with the opportunity to hear the innovative and the ancient in the prose of a new literary goddess, Joshua Whitehead." (Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves)

"Jonny Appleseed weaponizes story to bring the rez (and urban rez) to life, shrouding its characters in luminous layers so they're neither good nor bad but immersed in worlds and words. Unflinching and intimate, Joshua Whitehead takes his readers on a journey to the heart of an NDN glitter princess with generous, swooning prose. Unforgettable." (Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster)

"With only seven days until he returns home for his stepfather's funeral, Appleseed spends a pyretic week attempting to reconcile the competing factions of his life: sex, friends, work, sex, family, identity, sex. Throughout, memories of his kokum (grandmother) intrude upon the chaos, and these unexpected moments of remembrance prove most striking. A radically original new voice." (Booklist)

What listeners say about Jonny Appleseed

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  • Kim
  • 2021-02-25

raw and emotional

this is not a book I would ordinarily read, however in listening to the author's reading of this story I could feel the anger, frustration and love come through. This book is raw in it's telling of Indigenous reality with regards to stigma and treatment by others who just don't care to get to know or understand. And also how as two spirited people are sometimes not even embraced by their own communities and families. This book is great to show the more difficult side of living on the fringes of 'normal' society and how cruel life can sometimes be.

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Buy this book!!!

This writer amazed me, telling the story of Jonny with so much depth, grit, sensuality, vulnerability, humour and poetry.
It’s told in such an insightful and authentic way, the characters just felt so real.
Highly recommend 💜

1 person found this helpful

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An Other Canadian perspective

A real refreshing to hear a voice and story that describes a Canada where judgement is put aside and things are just the way they are. Sexuality, love and relationships are what they are, life happens and has wisdom in all the experiences.

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Poignant, & evocative

Came to this via CBC's "Canada Reads", and wow, what a powerful first novel! I was enraptured and transported the entire time by the incredibly evocative prose that brought the characters to life. So grateful it was funded to be worked into audio book form! Joshua, Thank you for introducing me to your culture and baring your soul in such an honest way. We need more stories and voices like yours to be heard.

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horribly beautiful

That is all I have to say, it is one of the best books I have ever read.

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Beautifully Authentic Queerness

I want to hug Joshua. I laughed out loud and got lumps in my throat reading this book. Brilliant and poetically written with startling immediacy. Awkward and fun.

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Incredible

Wow, really brought me home. So relatable and just loved all the stories a solid 5

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Fantastic.

Wonderful, heart-breaking, and uplifting queer/two-spirit story. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a queer indigenous Canadian perspective. Beautiful poetic writing and imagery.

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True to life

This book surprised me. It is a departure from the books I read regularly. It was so much better than I had expected. I enjoyed how each chapter flowed with memories and present experiences. I listened to it on a 5 hour drive then listened to the end after I unloaded my vehicle. The voice made me feel that I was listening to the main character telling me his story. I have a friend who started a book club and both of us would recommend you read this book. Very impressed.

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Stole my heart!

A warm wonderful homage to love and family. Joshua Whitehead doesn’t pull any punches. Not surprisingly the narration feels very genuine. Surprised by my sudden tears at the end.

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • doug jarvie
  • 2021-05-08

Open Door

Think of this book as an invitation into the way of life of someone you have just met. The door has been opened and you can cautiously enter into the home of a culture and belief system that exists in parallel with the teachings and beliefs of your home and culture. Be brave and open your mind to learn.

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  • Kris De Leon
  • 2021-03-17

Incredible!

This is a beautiful & inspiring book filled with love & pain & moments that will open you up, make you laugh & cry & will stick with you long after the story has finished.

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  • John M Sneezy
  • 2020-11-11

My first Two Spirit themed book/Audible! Awesome!

I can relate to so many of the situations in this book! took me back to my younger days and conquering my own stigma of being Two Spirit!

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  • Nix
  • 2020-10-16

Meegwetch che Meegwetch

I wept more within this book than I have in a long time, Meegwetch.

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  • Alexander Relihan
  • 2020-07-13

a perfect and healing story

Johnny Appleseed is a story that needs to be shared. It's one that holds so much love and humor and power, even as it tells of pain and grief and loss. it's about the power of 2S and queer love to heal and to help reconcile the pain of the past and the love of the present. please read it okay?

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  • Paul
  • 2020-02-06

Amazing

Joshua tells a many stories in one story that offers truth-telling and acceptance to all who enter.

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  • raymond
  • 2019-11-26

this is what story is long and self-hating

I listen to as long as I can but it's all about hitting oneself and selling your body and just old negativity.