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French Boy / A 1950s Franco-American Childhood


French Boy / A 1950s Franco-American Childhood chronicles the life of Denis Ledoux, a Mainer born in 1947. His life is typical of many Franco-Americans of his generation until it isn’t. You will find French Boy to be an important addition to your library of Franco-American books and you will appreciate how it adds to your understanding of Maine’s ethnically diverse communities in the last century.

345 pages

Five stars for this Informative, Memorable, and Entertaining memoir! Denis painted some wonderful pictures of the life and times of his Franco-American boyhood and his extended family. He not only provided ancestry and culture, but he gave us something extra that I have not yet found in other memoirs. He tells his life as he saw it while he was living it, and then later, we see how he felt in retrospect. I enjoyed seeing how he came to adulthood with impressions that eventually turned his memories into this wonderful memoir! I think you will enjoy French Boy as well. – B Boisvert

French Boy gives an interesting overview of the unique culture of the Francophones of Quebec and Maine during a particular time in American history. As an immigrant myself, I could identify with the themes of ‘otherness’ and ‘belonging’ so well depicted through the character of the young protagonist. A book that everyone from the dominant culture should read! — Sue Narayanan

French Boy transports the reader into the unique way of life  of the Franco-Americans (French-speaking Canadians in the US) during a time of much societal change following World War II. Denis Ledoux provides a very thoughtful look into his world at the time and the effects of change on his hard-working, extended family who immigrated from Canada to work in the textile mills of Maine. His honesty about the inner conflicts and questions his childhood experiences and observations caused him are heartwarming and relatable. As a native Californian, I enjoyed gaining an understanding of a people and culture, within the United States, yet a world away. —Mary McFadden


French Boy is a memoir that many will identify with—from the mémère whose stories dot the memoir to the dedicated nuns at the Catholic school who lead the children in Marian devotions to mon oncle, the priest.

French Boy chronicles the life of a Maine Franco-American born in 1947 at the French hospital to his entry into the seminary at age 13.

This is a book that seeks however to go beyond the familiar and easy references to Franco life—pea soup is not mentioned once. Instead it plunges into feelings of loss and alienation, of shame and struggles, of a search for a firmer identity.

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4 reviews for French Boy / A 1950s Franco-American Childhood

  1. Denis Ledoux

    Enjoyable read

    French Boy is an enjoyable read for anyone who grew up in a French-Canadian (Québecois)-American family or in New England or in the 50s and 60s. Denis Ledoux’s memoir will bring back many memories of the reader’s own childhood and the people and events that he or she may have encountered along the way.
    —Ernest Jetté

  2. Denis Ledoux

    Interesting stories of a clash of cultures

    I received a pre-publication copy of French Boy: A 1950’s Franco-American Childhood and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author paints a realistic, candid, and sometimes funny picture of growing up Franco-American in Maine. The tales of his family, grandparents, aunts & uncles kept me wanting more. It struck me, having grown up in the southwest, how my own experiences mirrored some of his with the exception of how we treated our Hispanic American neighbors. Bringing emotions to the surface from one’s own psyche is the sign of a talented author. I highly recommend this read.
    —Charlie Ledbetter

  3. Denis Ledoux

    Eye opening read

    As a fellow Franco American, but one who was raised in a small city where French could be heard spoken on most street corners, I totally enjoyed reading about Denis’ experience of growing up French in the small “Yankee” town of Lisbon, Maine. Bravo, Denis.
    —Cécile Desjardins Thornton

  4. Denis Ledoux

    Clash of cultures

    French Boy: A 1950s Franco-American Childhood by Denis Ledoux is a memoir of his childhood in Lisbon Falls in the 1950s. This story is not only a personal one, but also a story of Maine’s Francophone ethnic community. Mr. Ledoux chronicles his and his family’s life and, at the same time, he explores his lost Canadian French history, culture, and values of his generation in Maine.

    The narrative includes a plethora of characters: great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, friends, and others. Each character has a unique story to tell that reinforces the author’s ancestral roots. His memories are a valuable insight into the culture he was born. His parents were hardworking people who worked several jobs and long hours to provide for their family. They were textile mill workers, grocery store owners, chicken farmers, and carpenters.

    The book brings into focus important issues and themes: immigration of Canadians to North America, cultural displacement, language challenges, assimilation in a new culture, family dynamics, religious beliefs, raw models, education (or lack of it), and Francophone cultural traditions and practices.

    I can associate with several of these traditions as they mirror my own childhood experiences in a small island village in Greece:

    · Sharing a house with grandparents and having no privacy.
    · Living without the modern conveniences of air-conditioning and heating, hot water, cell phones,
    computers, and washing machines.
    · Addressing older people and people of authority with respect.
    · Being a housewife and working voluntarily to supplement the family’s income.
    · Praying at the start of a school day.
    · Enjoying a Réveillon party on New Year’s Eve.
    · Having uneducated parents and no books in the house other than textbooks.
    · Respecting the role of priests and nuns in education.
    · Practicing home remedies for curing minor ailments.

    French Boy was a pleasure to read. I liked the French expressions the author used throughout the narrative as they gave it a more personal touch (I enjoy the way French language sounds). I also enjoyed the detailed stories of a family trying to adapt to a foreign land. So much of this story echoes my generation’s issues and my own immigration to the U.S. Additionally, it educated me on the history and culture of French speaking Canadians.
    —Harikleia Sirmans

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