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Scarborough

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,062 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighborhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist har ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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Glenn Sumi
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Scarborough is an ethnically diverse, lower-income suburb east of Toronto. It’s also the name and setting of Catherine Hernandez’s deeply empathetic debut novel, a colourful book that represents a myriad of voices that are too seldom heard in books and movies.

From Fall 2011 to Summer 2012, we follow the lives of about a dozen people living in the Kingston/Galloway* area, including several young children who attend a school’s literacy program, their parents and neighbours.

Using both first and th
...more
Andrew
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh god that last chapter... *is emotionally gut punched and staggers away*
Louise
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! This book blew me away. I literally could NOT put it down. It's a slice of life in a low-income multi-cultural Canadian community where poverty and racism is rampant, but also where love and acceptance flourish. One of the best books I have read in the past year.
chantel nouseforaname
This book touched me deeply and illustrated the true meaning of community.

Catherine Hernandez is a great writer. From my understanding this is her debut novel and what a debut!

In Scarborough, things may be hard but community comes together when they face challenges, even when they may not want to. Being born into a Scarborough family and having family still out there, Catherine Hernandez managed to distill the complexities and strengths of the community down into something beautiful and that
...more
Carri
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia, own
the most gorgeous, nuanced, complex, and authentic depiction of poor folks and poor folks of color that I've ever come across. this book is so important.
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
3.5
Set in the city of Scarborough, which is east of Toronto and a large, culturally diverse, low-income municipality, this novel is unique: it’s rare to see a piece of fiction focus on a place and people like those in Scarborough with love and respect. I don’t know if there are any other novels focused so intimately on Scarborough and its people, actually. So for that fact alone, this is a noteworthy Canadian novel. But it’s not only that that makes Scarborough a worthwhile book.

Hernandez takes
...more
Emmkay
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's great to see Scarborough as a community getting some love from Canadian writers and readers lately, between the accolades for this novel and those of David Chariandy. This is a page-turning story featuring a kaleidoscope of narrators in the Kingston/Galloway neighbourhood of Scarborough, centered loosely around the families who attend a literacy program at the local elementary school. You have the voices of some of the children, including recurring narrators Bing (a chubby Filipino whose mo ...more
Megan
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada-reads
Where do I even begin? This book was a perfect snapshot of a community. It was heartbreaking and beautiful.
Farzana Doctor
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this book. I followed each of the many diverse child and adult characters, hungry to know what was going to happen to each of them. I cheered when there was justice, was moved to tears when it was absent. A beautiful, touching and multi-layered look at this neighbourhood.

One of its remarkable strengths is that it has many protagonists, all of whom I could feel deeply for. And they are diverse in ways that we rarely see in CanLit. At moments I wondered if a couple of the minor characters co
...more
Renee
If you're looking for a book to completely tear you apart, this could be it. Scarborough is an account of the people living in a low-income community, east of Toronto. Through the Ontario Reads Literacy Program, our large cast of characters are connected. These characters, primarily parents and their kids, are subject to poverty, alcoholism, racism, and prejudice. Though they show it in different ways, all of these parents are doing the best they know how, with limited resources, to provide for ...more
Orla Hegarty
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
My parents stepped off a boat in Halifax in January 1967 and then took a train to Toronto. I was born in downtown Toronto in April and they took me back to their one bedroom apartment bordering on Scarborough.

They left Ireland freshly married to escape the disappointment my untimely early arrival would bring to their families. Neither parent had proven to be the star eldest child to their middle and upper class homes. Colossal disappointments, especially in their choice of spouse (despite a hast
...more
Chloe
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, popsugar-2018
Scarborough is a "slice of life" novel which follows the day-to-day activities of various people living in, well, Scarborough. It focuses on a few characters in particular. First, there's Bing whose mother loves him more than anything in the world but who cautions him to not reveal too much of his true self as she fears he would become an even easier target for the bullies. Then, there's Sylvie, who is sharp and independent - although not necessarily by choice, as life at home is difficult and t ...more
Josie
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Take a troubled community, inharmonious diversity of culture within it, poverty and pride - this is the story of Scarborough.
Catherine Hernandez takes a somewhat ugly backdrop and paints it to life using beautiful writing.

Told from multiple perspectives, one of my favorite passages from the book:
"“Right beside Rouge Hill Public School is a community centre and hockey arena. Every day after school, families with lighter skin and two whole parents with two whole jobs drive to the ice rink for hoc
...more
Lydia
Do you ever read the acknowledgements of a book because you love it so much and you don't want it to end? Because, yeah, I just did that.

I think I cried in this book four separate times. The fact that this is a debut novel FLOORS me.

This book is a story about a community, Scarborough, in Toronto and it's told from multiple perspectives. I could say "this book is redemption and love and resileniece all at once" but that doesn't really make a point, because Hernandez takes many people in a commu
...more
Jaclyn
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A moving, multi-voiced story of a community. The characters pulse from the page, and we share in their joy at each minor triumph. The writing is beautiful.

Also, I have a soft spot for the character of Bing and his mother Edna, who are Filipino. Love the references to "Filipino kisses" (lips curled in) and Catholic masses and Filipino pork dishes. They're two among many characters equally nuanced and well-crafted -- an Indigenous girl who lives with her mother and autistic brother at a shelter, a
...more
Ruth Seeley
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Consumed this one in two large gulps and didn't want it to end. Here's a taste:

"We, the brown kids with one and one-half parents, with siblings from different dads we see only in photos; we who call our grandmothers Mom; we who touch our father's hands through Plexiglas; we wait for their fanfare to be over. We wait through the weekends of extracurricular activity for Mondays, when the Zamboni resurfaces the rink and leaves a pile of chemical-ridden "snow" outside.

"This mountain-high remnant of
...more
Lauren Simmons
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is magic. It’s a Toronto many of us don’t know but are so adjacent to. The prose dances and the characters are drawn in bold, true, empathetic lines. Magic.
Janeschmidt
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is good... really good. Like, Canada Reads-calibre good. An ode to intersectionality, the skill with which the author shifts perspectives throughout the story is masterful; parents, kids, grandparents, caregivers - the whole spectrum. From the failed (as a human) neo-Nazi who finds himself having to care (and failing at it) for his daughter for the first time, to the Mi'kmaq mother of two and wife to a gambler, living in a shelter and trying to navigate the health care system for her s ...more
Jill S
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think I might give this 4.25.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the character development and I liked the setting, and the struggles of the characters felt very real and from the place of someone who knows the community. The writing style was very easy to read and I was sucked in and wanted to know what would happen with every character, Ms Hina in particular.

I feel it was a bit rushed and there were perhaps too many perspectives in order to fully flesh out each character; there also wasn't much dif
...more
Hannah
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book is a brilliant tribute to a brilliant community & i haven't read much that approaches its brilliance. it's so skillful and so alive in its portrayal of all these families, their relationships, their hustles, their strengths, their fuck-ups, and the portrayal of the systems that make things as they are, and the people who are the faces of those systems. this book is an incredibly full microcosm of how power works: the power of personal dignity, the power of connection, the power of ...more
Ampersand Inc.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jenny-s-reads
Scarborough (the place) has a special place in my heart, and I loved loved loved this novel.
Loretta
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was just gorgeous. Heartbreaking, tender, a rich and vivid picture of community and intertwined, messy, hard lives. Highly recommended.
Andrea MacPherson
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous book that tackles poverty, racism, abuse, neglect, joy, love, sorrow, guilt, and community in a breathless, authentic way.
Francine
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Original, funny, tender and ultimately heartbreaking. I loved this book, set in a hardscrabble Scarborough community peopled by loving parents failing in the face of overwhelming odds, and their quiet hopeful, astonishing children, making games out of overdue rent notices and plastic bags in the snow.
Amardip
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub, recommend
This novel reflects a year in the life of three marginalized children living in Scarborough connected by their attendance at a government-run after-school literacy program. Each chapter is told from a different perspective, usually one of the three children, interspersed with the adults that surround them. I enjoyed the multiple voices and perspectives and felt this approach added layers and texture to the novel. Having children narrate their own experiences is especially powerful as their world ...more
Ron S
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Deeply moving grit-lit set among the poor and disenfranchised in a segment of Greater Toronto.
Maria Zuppardi
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review on my blog, ReadingMaria
I have such a special place in my heart for Ms. Hina, who was a superstar throughout. I hope every kid in Scarborough has, or will find, the Ms. Hina in their lives – someone to guide them, give them strength, and hope. Because we all need it to survive. All of the characters in Scarborough will make you cry, laugh, and smile at their actions, words, and feelings. I can’t stress to you enough about how much I loved this book. Even though Scarborough is
...more
Nina Okens
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As much as I wanted to stretch the experience of reading this book over as many days as possible, I couldn't put it down and was turning the final pages just over 24 hours after starting it. If you've actually ever been to the Scarborough referenced in this book, you may see yourself and your community mirrored back at you with such fierce honesty and respect. If you've never been, you will still feel the pull of the characters and their community in your gut. It's beautiful and brutal and hopef ...more
Marta Kule
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have thought this before: How hard is it to get out of poverty? Just stop doing drugs or getting into abusive relationships, get your shit together, get a minimum-wage job, stick to it, and start saving money. Seriously, how hard can it be? I am immensely grateful for Scarborough, because stories like this make me see how hard it can be. Let Catherine Hernandez tell it:

Victor, a Black OCAD student:
“What are you up to?” one cop looked right at me and nodded toward the wagon. Another cop approa
...more
Kiara
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book as the subway arrived at King Station at 8am. I read this book daily on my commute from Victoria Park to King Station, and all along I couldn't believe how familiar it all was.

This book was so incredibly accurate of my neighbourhood and all the things I love about it. The characters are colourful and alive, their emotions real and raw. I found it a bit difficult to begin the book, and found the characters tough at first. The book changes quite a bit as we get to know the ch
...more
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Amnesty Internati...: July/August 2018 - Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez 6 32 Aug 21, 2018 04:38PM  
APL Evergreen Sum...: Scarborough 1 5 Jun 15, 2018 12:37PM  
Catherine Hernandez is a proud queer woman of colour, radical mother, activist, theatre practitioner, writer, the Artistic Director of b current performing arts. Her children’s book. M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book was published by Flamingo Rampant and her plays Kilt Pins and Singkil were published by Playwright’s Canada Press. Scarborough is Catherine’s first full-length fiction and she is so ...more
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