Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Scarborough” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book


4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,821 ratings  ·  378 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
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Scarborough, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Maria Yes, for sure! I wasn't sure if it was intended as an "oops" or whether it was a real one.…moreYes, for sure! I wasn't sure if it was intended as an "oops" or whether it was a real one.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,821 ratings  ·  378 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Scarborough
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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh god that last chapter... *is emotionally gut punched and staggers away*
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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. ...more
A beautifully written story of three different families, and a number of other individuals, in a lower income neighbourhood in Scarborough, a municipality east of Toronto. Catherine Hernandez follows these families' parents, primarily the mothers, and the children through several months as they struggle with a variety of things, such as poverty, addiction, domestic abuse, developmental and learning issues, racism and precarious living conditions. Hernandez also shows us a provincially-funded lit ...more
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
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. ...more
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
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
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I write this after crying multiple times while reading this. A beautiful book that I couldn't put down, about community at its purest. A must read. ...more
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
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.
Alanna King
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, poverty
This is my favourite book that I've read this year HANDS DOWN. It first came to my attention because I love the Ontario Library Association's Evergreen list each year. I enjoyed the audiobook version through Audible as Hernandez narrates her own book. I listen to audiobooks a lot on my commute to and from work, but this summer, I used the audiobook to motivate me as I was weeding my garden. I found myself, on more than one occasion, weeping openly in my yard.

It's a small but mighty hyperfocus o
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
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this again for the second time and it still continues to be one of my favourite books I have ever read (def in my top 10) I think about these characters so much in my day to day life i dont know what it is but this book as for sure left it's impression on me. Re-reading it just felt like a breath of fresh air

this was probably one of the best books that i have read this summer. reading about the different stories about the different people throughout this story (people I could 100% genuinely
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essentials
This book is heartbreaking, inspiring, contemporary storytelling at its best. Told through various perspectives (many of them young children) Hernandez paints a vibrant picture of marginalized community members in Scarborough and their resilience to adversity and systems that continues to fail them. Hernandez manages to touch on themes of race, culture, social class, gender and sexual orientation in this novel that showcases often forgotten voices in a way that feels authentic and empowering. I ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Riley (runtobooks)
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
mixed feelings about this book -- there were aspects i loved and parts that just didn't work for me. very excited to discuss this one at book club tomorrow. ...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
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
No greater, more beautiful book to finish out 2018 with.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: popsugar-2018, 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
Jill S
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, fiction, queer, bipoc
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
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 love ...more
Ian Ridewood
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unbelievable and deeply humanist look into a neighbourhood that reflects Canada with all its diversity, its intolerance, and its love.
Mateo Peralta
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What’s the last book that made you cry? For me it was Scarborough, written by Catherine Hernandez. I cried while reading it in the bathtub yesterday and cried while finishing it, drinking my coffee this morning. So many tears & yet, after finishing the book I feel restored. It’s the most beautiful and wonderful thing that one can feel after reading a book and I feel grateful in the way that one might unexpectedly experience after receiving a rare gift.

“We, the brown kids with one and one-half p
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Amnesty Internati...: July/August 2018 - Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez 5 43 Aug 21, 2018 04:38PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power
  • Frying Plantain
  • How to Pronounce Knife
  • Brother
  • Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto's Queer Community
  • Butter Honey Pig Bread
  • We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
  • Jonny Appleseed
  • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
  • Five Little Indians
  • Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies
  • From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way
  • Indians on Vacation
  • Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir
  • They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up
  • I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter
  • Split Tooth
  • Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Catherine Hernandez (she/her) is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is a proud queer woman who is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Indian descent and married into the Navajo Nation. Her first novel, Scarborough, won the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript; was a finalist for the Toronto Book Awards, the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award, the Edmund White Award, and the Tr ...more

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
29 likes · 11 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »