We knew we weren’t French. None of us ever confused who we were with the French of France, but that’s what people called us: French.
French Boy / A 1950s Franco-American Childhood
In French Boy / A 1950s Franco-American Childhood, Denis Ledoux shares his experience of growing up in Maine’s largest non-Anglo ethnic community. His memoir chronicles the early life of a boy born in 1947 in Lewiston, Maine. His Franco childhood will resonate with many readers as it is one shared by hundreds of thousands of Franco-New Englanders of his generation. It is more than a personal memoir; it is the story of a generation that has been silent.
This Remarkable Memoir is studded historical information that will explain much about Franco-America to both Francos and non-Francos:
- The marginalization of living among people who do not speak your language.
- The loss of “soul” when one’s mother tongue is shunted.
- The weight and the freedom of a past.
- The beauty of family connection.
- Learning to live with otherness as one’s only sustainable choice.
With French Boy, Ledoux has written a memoir that is sure to provoke discussion and not always agreement.
A basic function of memoir is to give witness to a time and to values gone by, and I believe French Boy succeeds admirably at this function, transcending the life of the individual who is its subject. As a story, French Boy is bigger than me.
Growing up as a “French boy” could have led to identity vagueness
French Boy reveals what it was like to grow up in the 1950s as a “French boy.” In this memoir, Denis struggles with competing stimuli as he attempts to fashion a sense of self. Denis wonders what people are saying when they speak the gibberish known as English. The old Yankee man with a long white beard, who is probably a very sweet man, becomes the bonhomme sept-heures (the Franco seven-o-clock man was the “boogeyman).
Later, Denis understands that his parents’ lives may not be models for the adult he senses he wishes to be—but there are no different models available. An outlet presents itself in going away to a minor seminary and he wins a Franco-American scholarship which makes that possible. The memoir ends in 1960 when the adolescent Denis leaves for the minor seminary. The fulfillment of a dream! Or is it?
My personal and family story is a sort of trellis through which I have intertwined Franco history. In that way, French Boy is only partially a personal story. I wrote it to be a prism through which one can understand a slice of history—our Franco history.
FRENCH BOY SOUNDS LIKE MY KIND OF BOOK! HOW DO I GET A COPY?
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