Cover Image: Jonny Appleseed

Jonny Appleseed

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Member Reviews

Recently I realized that I have a huge knowledge gap when it comes to Native American culture and I have been reading more fiction and nonfiction texts to remedy that. This is the first book I read that addresses what it is like to be queer in a Native American community. Though is not a book whose plot I will cherish for years to come, this is a character that has stolen a piece of my heart.
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There are aspects to this book that I found beautifully heart wrenching. The loss of grandmother, Rez life, off the Rez life had moments.
Then there was the rest of the book that were just too much—money matters, web site and smells of bodily fluids.  
The lack of cohesive thoughts, the bouncing around, felt too much like peeking in someone’s journal—but the journal that’s written and left out just to piss Mom off.

I wanted to love it.  I wanted to learn from this book.  Instead it felt like when a restaurant screws up your order but the appetizers were good.  Overall the service and meal disappointed and you left unhappy.  I left this book feeling this way.  The narration didn’t even redeem it.
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I've seen Whitehead's writing described as "indigiqueer" which is such a great description. This book is more of a look into the life of a young queer / Two-Spirit Indigenous guy named Jonny Appleseed, focusing especially on the important women in his life, than a plot-heavy novel concerned with linear storytelling. Jonny contemplates the cyber sex work he does in the city and his experiences growing up with his mom and kokum (grandmother) on the "rez." Overall, it's a really compelling read.
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Jonny Appleseed is unlike any other book I've ever read before. The entire story is so free and vulnerable, but is written in such an incredible self narrative that I thought it was a memoir the entire time. It's a book that really explores sex work as real work, and I've never quite read anything like that. Jonny, the MC, is Indigenous and queer (or Indigiqueer - which is a term I'd never heard before), and lives off the reservation. He has to return to the rez to attend a funeral, and the book explores the intersections of his identities and the challenges that accompany trying to fit into different molds that are expected of him. 

As a white female American, I have an understanding of my privilege and how the way I use that privilege can be helpful or harmful to other populations, especially those that are typically underrepresented. In the US, and even more internationally, I think there are expectations and assumptions about Indigenous Americans - the term "indigenous" in an of itself creates an assumption of underdevelopment. Jonny Appleseed really explores those assumptions of Native peoples and shatters them. 

"You have to perform in any situation, so you may as well pick your battles. Hell, I played straight on the rez to be NDN and here I played white to be queer. You can’t win in every situation, that's just the way it is."

I can't believe this is a debut novel. Yes, it's short. But it is so extremely well written and so absolutely engaging throughout the entire story, it's nearly impossible to put down. I included it in the trigger warnings above, but this story is very overtly sexual. It's an important and unique story that I highly, highly recommend, but personal preference should be taken into account if you plan to pick this book up.
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Just lovely, beautiful book. Heartbreaking and moving with some funny thrown in, I learned so much listening to this and it just felt utterly real.
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This one definitely read more like a non-fiction memoir. It's a heartbreaking, but yet beautiful story of Jonny, a two-spirited Indigenous sex worker trying to create a life outside of the reserve while Jonny deals with trauma, love, and family. This is a beautifully written story of perspectives that are not normally written about. It was a little graphic and hard to listen to at times.
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This is an amazing audio book that everyone should listen to.  I thought it was a memoir; the pain was so real, and the experiences described were so uniquely detailed that I believed it to be from memory.  I was delighted to hear it is actually fiction, but it does remind me that many people live in this very real world.

The storytelling is masterful; we alternate between present and past in an almost factual cool retelling of past events and how they impact today.  This is a story of growing up and taking a journey, but it is unique in every way.  I learned a lot about cybersex.

I loved Jonny.  He’s human and flawed but I was rooting for him the whole time.  His vulnerability and honesty were at times a bit much, but it made him real.  Universal life challenges including alienation from family, culture, traditions, love, grief are navigated in an engaging, poignant way.  Despite the fact that I am a 56 year old white female, I felt like I related to and empathized with Jonny.  

I am looking forward to reading more from Joshua Whitehead.  Thanks NetGalley and ECW Press Audio/Bespeak Audio Editions

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Johnny, a two-spirit, Indigenous and queer man leaves the reservation and becomes a sex worker. He fetishizes himself in order to make a living, and when his stepfather dies, Johnny has seven days before he has to return to the “rez” to attend the funeral, and what a wild seven days they are. Though I appreciated it greatly, I didn’t *enjoy* parts of it.

I loved that the MC is a Two-Spirit, Queer, Indigenous person who is also a sex worker. It’s an unromanticized look at marginalized and often invisible members of our country. These folks do exist and their voices are important.

As an aspec person, though, the unflinching and unromantic descriptions of sex and some of the grosser aspects of our human bodies put me off a little. Though me thinking “gross” a few times is a minor complaint. It’s very well written and I appreciated this slice of life from characters I don’t usually get to read about. I definitely recommend it, and I’ve seen it available on audio through Overdrive/Libby.
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This book was like a fever dream. A week in the life of a two-spirit/indigiqueer Jonny who is trying to make his own life in the big city. He's working to raise money before he has to return to the reservation for his step father's funeral. He makes money by working as a cyber-sex worker that willingly fetishizes himself to pay the bills. He morphs himself into whatever image his clients want from their "exotic Native" lover. This book is poetic and loaded with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Jonny is not necessarily making the best choices at all times but he is mostly aware of what he is doing. His days are filled with misdeeds and melancholy memories. This was an excellent first novel from poet Joshua Whitehead.

What to listen to while reading...
Work Bitch by Britney Spears
We Found Love by Rihanna
Get Ur. Freak On by Missy Elliott
Hustler by Simian Mobile Disco
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A powerful narrative of a Two Spirit/2SQ who leaves the Rez to start a new life.

Jonny has always lived in abject poverty and continues to even after moving to the city where they make just enough money to get by day to day as a sex worker. We hear about the few close and meaningful relationships that have carried them through their young life so far. This will be one that will stick with me for awhile. I will always be wonder about how the rest of Jonny's life would have played out.

Looking forward to reading more from Joshua Whitehead.
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Thanks to ECW Press Audio/Bespeak Audio Editions and NetGalley for an ALC of this book. 

Jonny is an Indigiqueer/two-spirit member of a Canadian First Nations tribe. He's working as a cybersex operator when his step-father dies. As he travels back to "the rez" for the funeral, he reminisces about his earlier life. The reader learns about what it was like growing up as an LGBTQ+ Native person. (Spoiler alert: He wasn't embraced and revered like the mythical Two-Spirit people we've all heard about.) I especially enjoyed hearing about his relationship with his beloved and feisty Kokum (grandmother)

#JonnyAppleseed #NetGalley
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Thank you to Netgalley, the author and ECW Press Audio for the copy of this audiobook. I had just purchased the physical copy and the audio allowed me to finish it on a long drive. I can understand why this book was so highly raved about and is going to be made into a CBC miniseries! 
I really hope more people read this book and can feel the connection with the character and his struggles learning about himself into adulthood, in relationships and dealing with grief.
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This archived the same day that I was approved so I didn't get the chance to listenl I was really excited to listen to it as I've heard amazing things. Will be requesting from the library.
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This contemporary novel follows Jonny’s life as a “Two-Spirit / Indigiqueer” who returns to the “rez” to attend a funeral. During his trek, we flip back and forth in time, as Jonny recollects stories from his life. We learn about his family, his cybersex work, memories from his past, and much more.

We get a glimpse at Jonny’s family, culture, and traditions. I cherished the relationship he shared with his kookum (grandmother) -- their mini dance parties, her acceptance of Jonny’s identity, and their bond, in general, was so pure and basically the epitome of unconditional love. My heart broke after learning of her passing -- yet her funeral was a lively celebration of her life. Apart from this, we learn about the family dynamics, life on the rez, family traditions, and the amazing food kookum made.

Each story was like a callus -- raw and painful at first, but something that would eventually thicken so you could add it to your pile of experiences. It was interesting to see the hardships and experiences Jonny faced as a kid and how those shaped him into who he is at present -- like the nail painting incident and his relationship with Tias.

I genuinely enjoyed the style of storytelling -- it felt natural, vulnerable, and flowed beautifully. We see that the characters are flawed, yet human -- no one’s perfect or trying to be something they’re not. Not only did the book feel realistic, but it was also one that I see people relating to or find themselves reflected in.

Whitehead also highlights changes and its effects brought on by colonialism and other issues faced by the Indigenous. While this book isn’t for everyone, Jonny’s story is still important, poignant, and contains amazing LGBTQ+ and Indigenous rep!
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This book follows Jonny, a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer young man who has to go back to his reservation because his step dad died, and recalls various memories from his childhood. This book was incredibly engaging with its non linear narrative; all of the memories Jonny remembers are both fragmented and incredibly detailed. Jonny was powerful, but he was also broken, and beautiful. The way this book was written, it was almost as if it was a memoir, I don't feel like I can write a review that does this novel justice. 

* Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Johnny Appleseed, “Indigiqueer”/Two-Spirit, leaves the reservation for the big city. He reminisces about growing up while trying to navigate his new adulthood. He has seven days to scrounge up the money and fortitude to return home for the funeral of his little-loved stepfather. 

One of the less obvious things I love about this book is the modern references. Instead of the usual writerly contest to see who can best represent texting in fiction, this book grounds itself in the present with well-chosen modern references (Florence Welch, The Revenant, etc). Rather than patronizing readers by reaching for the usual classical reference combined with modern tech, this novel simply lives in the modern world. If you are illiterate in regards to pop culture, you will be lost (and deserve it). 

The author himself reads the Audiobook, and it’s wonderful. 

“An Indian ‘love you’ sound like ‘I’m in pain with you.’”

I am grateful to both the publisher and NetGalley for providing an Audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Full review to come later today hopefully, but this book was so beautiful and it was such a treat to have the author narrate the book! I felt like i was hearing the book as it was meant to be read. The sex scenes did get overly descriptive but I appreciated the complexity between race, sexuality and gender.
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I've never read anything like this book. Once I finished, I had to look it up to see if it was the authors memoir. It is indeed fiction however, the author does an excellent job at giving the reader a glimpse into the harsh realities of experiencing life as a 2 spirit First Nations individual. It is the story of Johnny, and the pains of not feeling as though you have a true place in the world. It is a story of love, family, and heartbreak. This book will stay with me for a very long time, and I couldn't recommend it enough. 

I had a wonderful experience listening to this audiobook. It is narrated by the author and makes the story feel that much more authentic. 

Thank you netgalley for providing a copy to review.
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This was haunting and sad and erotic and visceral and deeply sensual - both in the sexual and sensory meanings of that word. My heart broke for Jonny as a character even as I loved him, wanted good things for him, hoped for things that I knew would not happen. He felt very real, in part due to the nonlinear writing style that felt more like a train of thought than a narrative. The audiobook was narrated by the author and that definitely added to my experience. I want to read more from this author, and other two-spirit and indigiqueer authors.

Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Press Audio/Bespeak Audio Editions for free access to the audiobook!
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One of my favorite ways an audio book can be narrated is by the author so I really appreciate that Joshua was the narrater. What an exceptional job it was,  you could feel everything that was written and it was an amazing experience. This was a five star read.
This book was a fabulous read spotlighting both Indigenous and queer communities.. i love how vulnerable jonny's story was and will definitely be recommending it
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