Review: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

Review: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

I'm always on the lookout for Canadian fiction, and having this book titled "Scarborough" really drew me in. Scarborough is a diverse city, east of Toronto. As a Montrealer, it's not that far away from me. Like many inner-city communities, Scarborough has it's a fair share of people living in poverty, and crime. Scarborough tells a narrative through many voices. We have the adults and the children's view which really adds to the storyline. Victor is a black artist, harassed by the police. Hina, a Muslim School worker who tries her best to help the children and families. Wimsum, a West Indian restaurant owner who's struggling with the day to day. Then we have three children who have to rise above a system that doesn't help them succeed. Silvie and Bing are best friends, Silvie is Native and living with her family in a shelter. Bing, an intelligent gay Filipino boy who has a father dealing with mental illness. Laura, a white girl who's parents have a history of neglect. Her father doesn't know where her next meal is coming from. This is a book that will open your eyes and break your heart.

The children really captured my heart, we are introduced to such innocent children. We see how some parents are very loving and caring, but lack resources. They do their best with what they have, then we have other parents who don't even try. Children forced to live with one parent, and then passed on to the other without a second thought. Children consistently going to school without breakfast or lunch. It's heartbreaking and unfortunately, it's reality. As I read through this book, I became attached to the children. Their unique understanding of their world, and trying to adapt. Children who have too much on their shoulders. We see these children through Hina, a Muslim school worker who runs the literacy program. She's a fantastic character, every child should have access to a Ms. Hina; someone who looks out for them and generally tries to do good. While Hina would love to give the children everything they lack, she has hoops to jump through, and a budget to follow. Those above her, have no clue what is actually needed. These children are more than just a line item in a budget plan.

This book is multi-layered and a great read. The emotions are real and raw. Towards the end of the book, the story shifted away from the children a little bit. I loved their viewpoints and felt a little disconnected from them. I also want to mention the representation in this book. I loved the indigenous representation, as well as the black, gay and immigrant representation. Scarborough is truly ethnically diverse, and you can see the obstacles that so many lower-income families have to try to overcome. The complexities of life in a Canadian city, children being failed time and time again. This book is unique, the cast of characters could easily be your neighbour. One of them may possibly be you. Overall, I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone. This is Canadian fiction, done very well. A debut novel that will appeal to a wide audience and it's definitely worth the read.

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  1. I love that you seek out Canadian authors. I love diverse communities and reading about different places so think I'd like this book.

    1. Thank you! My heart belong to Canadian Native Literature but I'll take Canadian Literature too.