Thursday, July 29, 2021
Book Review: "Jonny Appleseed" by Joshua Whitehead
I saw some Bookstagram friends reading this a few months ago and I was intrigued, but when my friend Lindsay bought me a copy I couldn’t wait to read it. This is such a unique, gorgeously written queer book which really opened my eyes to what it’s like growing up as a queer Native American.
Jonny is a two-spirit/Indigiqueer young man who is currently living and trying to make it in the big city, away from the reservation. He makes a living as a cybersex worker, fulfilling his clients’ Native American fantasies, but he is in love with his childhood best friend, who is struggling with his own sexuality and trying to fulfill traditional male roles.
Jonny has to get back to the rez for his stepfather’s funeral. This book, told in nonlinear fashion, follows his journey home and his efforts to make enough money to get there, but it is interspersed with flashbacks of his growing up, his special relationship with his kokum (grandmother), and what it’s like to grow up Indigiqueer both on and off the rez.
This book doesn’t pull any punches—it’s frank in describing sex and the occasional violence that he faced. But Whitehead’s storytelling draws you in and leaves you feeling the same kaleidosope of emotions that Jonny does. He’s such a vivid character and I loved following his journey.
Jonny Appleseed is not a book for everyone but it’s one I’ll definitely remember.