Letters From Johnny

By (author) Wayne Ng
Categories: Fiction: general and literary, Fiction and Related items, Sports fiction
Series: Essential Prose Series
Publisher: Guernica Editions
Paperback : 9781771835770, 130 pages, April 2021


Set in Toronto 1970, just as the FLQ crisis emerges to shake an innocent country, eleven-year-old Johnny Wong uncovers an underbelly to his tight, downtown neighbourhood. He shares a room with his Chinese immigrant mother in a neighbourhood of American draft dodgers and new Canadians. In a span of a few weeks, his world seesaws. He is befriended by Rollie, a draft dodger who takes on a mentor role. He grapples with murder, racism, and the children’s welfare society.


  • Winner, Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence for Best Crime Novella 2022


While this voice and format will appeal to younger readers, the universal themes of a search for identity and a need to belong will resonate with anyone who never quite felt understood or that they belonged. Moreover, the novel will also draw in legions of Toronto Maple Leaf diehard fans, Canadian history buffs and lovers of off-beat immigrant stories. In essence, this is an adult fiction/YA crossover.

- Ottawa Review of Books

Poignant, insightful, and tinged with menace. Letters from Johnnydeftly captures the confusion and hurt of eleven-year-old Johnny Wong as he grapples with loyalty, friendship, and murder close to home.

- Barbara Fradkin, Arthur Ellis Award finalist, author of Inspector Green, Amanda Doucette and Cedric O’Toole murder series

I love this book a lot. Its voice—Johnny Wong, Grade 5, 1970—is one we’ve never heard before, expressed, eventually, in letters to Leaf captain Dave Keon. There’s sports here, but don’t let that give you pause. Letters From Johnny is as much about growing up as a first-generation Canadian as it is Toronto in the 70s with its team, its Chinatown, its new cultures trying to be heard above the Protestant din.

- Dave Bidini, author of Keon and Me

Who knew that a Chinese-Canadian kid’s heartwarming letters to his hockey hero could so perfectly capture Canada in 1970? Letters From Johnny takes us from the FLQ crisis and a shocking neighborhood crime, to the simple heartbreak of being a Maple Leafs fan. Wayne Ng brings us the world of Johnny Wong, as the 11-year-old pours out his fears, hopes, and dreams to his new pen pal, Leafs legend Dave Keon.

- Wayne Turmel, author of Acre's Bastard and Acre's Orphans

Not only will [readers] appreciate the cultural themes mentioned above, but the story takes them back not only to an era of crisis in our Canadian history but also an era of sports and entertainment which many will remember... Ng has captured the voice of a young boy, and his doing so allows us to share his worries and fears along with his hopes and dreams.

- Canadian Review of Materials

Wayne Ng has the uncanny knack of being able to project himself into a child’s head to tell readers the child’s story—not an easy feat. Johnny is an engaging character going through a rough patch in life and Wayne brings that to life with a voice that is both accurate and convincing.

- Rick Blechta, award-winning author of the Pratt and Ellis series