The Wild Boy of Waubamik
by Thom Ernst
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Pub Date 28 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 09 Jan 2023
Film critic, writer, and broadcaster Thom Ernst chronicles his life growing up with an abusive father in rural Ontario.
The residents of Waubamik know about the Wild Boy, a somewhat feral child, standing near-naked in a rusty playground of weeds and discarded metal, clutching a headless doll. They know the boy has been plucked from poverty and resettled into a middle-class family. But they don’t know that something worse awaits him there.
This is a story of a system that failed, a community that looked the other way, and a family that kept silent. It is also a document of the popular culture of the 1960s, a powerful set of myths that kept a boy comforted. But ultimately, The Wild Boy of Waubamik is a story of triumph, the story of the abusive childhood of a man who grew up to become a film critic and broadcaster. It reminds us that life, even at its darkest, can surprise us with moments of joy, hope, and dreams.
"Filters trauma through pop culture, the past through screens, whether they be silver, televisual, or the many varieties of emotional self-defence." —ANDREW PYPER, author of The Homecoming
"A refreshing and strange coming of age story that’s redolent with all the heavy stuff — mortality, impermanence, family — but also dances in the light. Thom Ernst has made his own confection, and the rewards are in the sugar of the language and the tart of the story." —DAVE BIDINI, author of Midnight Light
"Thom Ernst’s harrowing, heartfelt, fascinating and thoroughly original and readable memoir of adoption and abuse — and the art that can come of them." —IAN BROWN, broadcaster and award-winning author
"Courageously honest, and emotionally shattering, The Wild Boy of Waubamik scratches the surface of complacency to dive into the deep, secret waters of childhood sexual abuse, giving a voice to those unheard. Beautifully written, this memoir is as illuminating as it is necessary." —HEIDI VON PALLESKE, actor and author of Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack
"An inspiring story of resilience, told with a vivid sense of character and humour." —RICHARD CROUSE, CTV host and film critic
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