CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Johnston, Wayne.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1985. 190pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-609-7 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-610-0 (paper) $12.95.

Grade 10 and up
Reviewed by E. Robson

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

This first novel by Wayne Johnston contains some of the funniest and saddest moments in fiction. Johnston has written a coming-of-age novel set in a small Catholic town in Newfoundland. His childhood memories are triggered by each of the many houses he and his weatherman father and school teacher mother share. The main character, Bobby, is not an average young man in a normal family. He is a very intelligent and emotional young man in an unusual family relationship. His story spans the emotions; it contains extremely funny incidents, such as fixing the bathroom plumbing to coping with his father's affair and his death.

The author, as was Bobby in the story, was born in Newfoundland and later left the island. Perhaps the distance has made him appreciate his background and thus write about it so eloquently. There are moments of beautiful poetic language conveying thoughts and feelings of the period. In order not to have this book read as autobiographical, the author has stated that "This book, though not about my parents, is dedicated to them." Johnston has captured the setting of small-town Newfoundland and the flavour of his characters, but it is very hard to identify with any part of the story or the characters. However, this novel does provide a vehicle for some very sharp comments about the role of the Catholic church and the education system in the province.

Although Johnston does use the local dialect in his dialogue, the novel is written in normal English and easily read. Although there are no limitations, this novel will be most appreciated by senior students and adults.

E. Robson, Winston Churchill C.I., Scarborough, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works