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, one of the draft dodgers who takes on a fatherly and writing mentor role. Johnny’s mother is threatened by the “children’s warfare society.” Meany Ming, one of the characters by the rooming house is found murdered. He suspects the feline loving neighbour, the Catwoman. Inspired by an episode of Mannix, he tries to break into her house. Ultimately he is betrayed but he must act to save his family. He discovers a distant kinship with Jean, the son of one of the hostages kidnapped by the FLQ who have sent Canada into a crisis.
Wayne Ng was born in downtown Toronto to Chinese immigrants who fed him a steady diet of bitter melons and kung fu movies. Ng works as a school social worker in Ottawa but lives to write, travel, eat and play, preferably all at the same time. His debut novel Finding The Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu was released in 2018. He is an award-winning short story and travel writer who continues to push his boundaries from the Arctic to the Antarctic, blogging and photographing along the way at WayneNgWrites.com
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
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
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
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
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