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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.

385 pages

French Boy shines a spotlight on our complex Franco history and rich culture, and I found many points of connection throughout. You will, too.

— Susan Poulin, playwright (Pardon My French!), author (Finding Your Inner Moose), blogger (Just Ask Ida)

French Boy put me in awe of Denis Ledoux’s talent, work ethic, good sense, and common humanity. These qualities add up to a touch of genius, which in summary displays Ledoux’s ability to bring drama and feeling, as well as meaning, to the reportage of ordinary life.

French Boy deepens and expands our understanding of American history. For people like myself, a grandson of old Canada, it is a gift. Thank you, Denis Ledoux.

— Ernest Hébert, novelist, Whirlybird Island

French Boy is a story of grit, self-discovery, and it offers an understanding of one’s Franco-ness. For those who know

Franco-American history or those on a journey to find it, Denis Ledoux’s story telling will inspire.

— Ryan Fecteau, former Speaker, Maine House of Representatives

In French Boy, Denis Ledoux paints an intimate and informative portrait of his Franco-American boyhood in 1950s Maine, where he felt “separate from the present which seemed foreign—and American.” Ledoux’s abiding affinity for story enriches this tale of a thoughtful boy seeking more than his parents could provide.

— Steven Riel, poet, Edgemere

With vivid and painstaking detail, Denis Ledoux recreates Maine’s Franco-American community as it was when he was growing up in the 1950s. His memoir is so close to life as then lived that it evokes both pride and pain, regret and remembrance, in equal measure.

— Douglas Rooks, First Franco: Albert Beliveau in Law, Politics and Love




Check out We Were Not Spoiled / A Franco-American Memoir below. It is in many ways a companion  book.

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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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