The Convictions of Leonard McKinley.


112 pages
ISBN 978-1-55152-222-7
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.


Two thoughts come to mind reading Brendan McLeod’s first novel, the winner of the 2006 3-Day Novel Contest. First, its young protagonist could use a helping of humility in his dealings with God. When he is six, Leonard gets lost while riding his bike near his Calgary home and, at the same time, his father has a heart attack. Cause and effect, Leonard thinks. God gave dad the heart attack because he was worried about me being lost. “You killed Dad,” says his younger brother, Nick, and, though the attack is a minor one that the father survives, it is enough to plant the seed of Christian guilt.


Second, it is fortunate that McLeod “ran out of time,” as he told an interviewer, before Leonard reached the planned age of 45. The novel ends as Leonard turns 21. An older Leonard would have realized that the mind that tries too hard to expunge unhealthy and unwelcome thoughts runs the considerable risk of locking them in. From his early teens through his university years in Victoria, Leonard’s pacts with God become increasingly concerned with sex. Before a school dance, “he promises God that if he gets to dance with Angela Watson he will never have pre-marital sex with her … [and] to demonstrate his chastity, he agrees to date her for two weeks before he even tries to kiss her, so that their love will certainly be pure, like it is in Christian romance novels by Janice Oke.”


Things get more dark and serious when Leonard begins to suspect himself of, first, having gay tendencies and, soon after, being a latent pedophile. His struggles to be good are tested again and again.


McLeod’s talents are varied. Besides being a prize-winning writer, he is a SLAM poetry champion and a member of The Fugitives, a spoken word and music collective that has released some CDs.


McLeod, Brendan., “The Convictions of Leonard McKinley.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,