Get a free audiobook

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

"Bunny told me there were secrets about me that she would take to the grave, secrets that no one would ever hear, including me...."

Tom Wilson always felt something wasn't quite right. His parents, Bunny and George, were much older than other kids' parents. There were no baby photos of him in the house. At school, classmates called him Indian, despite his parents' Irish-Quebecois background. And as he got older, friends, lovers and even family members remarked on his uncanny resemblance to Bunny's closest relative, her niece Janie Lazare, whose father was a Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec.

Tom wouldn't learn the truth about his identity until he was 53, when a tour handler whose mother had known Tom's now deceased parents let it slip that he was adopted. It would be another two years until he worked up the courage to confront Janie with what the handler had told him, what all his life he had suspected. Janie - the woman whom Tom called cousin, whom he'd known his whole life, who had lived with Tom and Bunny after George died - immediately broke into tears and confessed. She was his biological mother.

In this incredible story about family and identity, carefully guarded secrets and profound acts of forgiveness, Tom Wilson writes about growing up as an outsider in two families - the family he lost and the family who took him in. His story takes us from working-class Hamilton of the 1960s and '70s, neighbourhoods peopled by fall-guy wrestlers, broke mobsters, and WWII vets, to today, as he continues his journey to connect with the man he now knows to be his father and with his Mohawk heritage and relatives, discovering Kahnawake chiefs, Brooklyn "skywalkers", and nomadic Arnold Palmer groupies among them.

With a rare gift for storytelling and a remarkable story to tell, Tom Wilson writes with unflinching honesty and extraordinary compassion about his search for identity and for the truth about his family. Moving, captivating and at times hysterically funny, Beautiful Scars is a story about the families who raise us and the families who course through our veins.

©2017 Tom Wilson (P)2017 Doubleday Canada

What the critics say

"Beautiful Scars is a frank and fair, raw and loving look at what it means to grow up with the silver spoon as far from your mouth as it can get, a confession that celebrates the miseries and joys of working-class life, of musicianship, of chasing secrets, of fighting through to discover the person you didn't realize you were. This is a remarkable, generous, big-hearted book that will stick with me for a long time." (Guy Vanderhaeghe, author of The Englishman's Boy, The Last Crossing and A Good Man)

"The book isn't just good. It's stunning.... The secrets around [Wilson's] life form a fundamentally Canadian story, rich in history and steeped in darkness. They also separate Beautiful Scars from the ranks of the typical rock memoir, and place it firmly on the shelf with the likes of Angela's Ashes and The Glass Castle - riveting accounts of family and secrets, poverty and peril, adversity and triumph." (Quill & Quire, starred review)

"A helluva story.... Wilson has the ear of the poet and the eye of the painter. He manages to pick just the right anecdote to sum up a personal feeling, at the same time as capturing a broader cultural moment." (Hamilton Spectator)

  • Finalist for the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
  • Finalist for the Hamilton Literary Awards
  • National BestsellerA CBC Best Book of 2017

More from the same

Author:

Narrator:

What listeners say about Beautiful Scars

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    33
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    27
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story

This is a great auto-biography. Tom Wilson reads his story and brings it from the pages to your ears in a way only he can. I highly recommend this book for fans of his, and others struggling with their identity in this world.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Won’t find a better story

Tom writes and speaks with the passion and honesty as his songs hold. You will love the story, warts and all. Well done man.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thank you

thank you to Tom for sharing his life with us. I am moved and love listening. loved it even more that it was read by Tom.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An enlightening story that makes one really think of where they come from....

I loved the way the author narrates his story in his own words..... the way he describes his childhood, takes me back to my youth. His descriptive manner makes you feel like you could really see everything that he relates in his book. Glad he was able to find his roots. Everyone deserves to know where they come from; what their real story is. Thanks for sharing yours!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Book I Didn't Know I Needed

Great book. At times it felt like Tom was reaching into my heart. Goosebump moments, and more. It reads honest and true.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Inspiring story

I loved this book, so much, because I was only a fan of Tom’s music prior to reading this and now I am a fan of the man. His story is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time as he tells a tale of his life and it’s amazing how he grew up 200 Kilometres from me and yet a galaxy away. Having Tom read his own story adds so much validity to his words and when the tears run, it is because it feels like he is right beside you, telling this story of his beautiful scars.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

5 stars no less

5 stars no less. Thank you Tom. Beautifully written and beautifully read. Nice Treble Hall shout-out.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

I love Tom's voice, his prose and music. My favourite audible books are the ones read by the author and this one just shot to the top of the list. Tom's a year older than me and grew up in Hamilton, 45 miles east of Woodstock where I grew up and live. I can relate to so many of the memories, settings and people. Having said that we had vastly different upbringings and his story & the telling of it is spellbinding.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Weaving the extraordinary

It always astonishes me that Tom Wilson rarely acknowledges how brilliant his music is. Not once does he give himself credit for the fine body of work he has created over many years. In fact, one would think from reading this, that he is not one of the finest singer/songwriters in Canada. I didn't realize that his adopted dad was blind and that Bunny was basically his caregiver. The last time I saw her was on stage at F of F in Hamilton the year Planet Love was released. Adoption is tricky business, as both I and our son were adopted, although we always knew it, and have met what family we respectively had. I am learning that things I thought happened only in someone else's lives in some other country, that created the art that I think of as transcendent, are actually the ordinary things that happen to people, including ourselves, that we live every moment of every day. Tom's gritty poetry resonates with Hamilton, and his gratitude to fellow artist's is appropriate and touching. Pizza Patio days on King Street are as clear to me this moment as they were in the 80's. Thanks, Tom. You are an artist.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • 2020-12-10

A Good Memoir

A solid read by a wonderful narrator of stories comprising his life so far. I recommend it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lynda Dobbin-Turner
  • 2019-05-04

Powerful real life story

Too often we think of the lives of performing artists in terms of the glamour, and the glitz and the beauty of it all. Tom story “Beautiful Scars” takes us beyond that glamour, beyond that glory, into the reality of the Canadian performing artist trying to make his way in the musical world and share it with us so many of the pitfalls, challenges, and heartbreak that is the cost of that world. More than that, it is the story of Canada. Our folk music industry, the reality of pursuing your passions, your creative gifts, and the unknowing. All of the experience as we try and meld those gifts into the Creator’s vision for us. I love listening to Tom read his own works through the entirety. I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Tom at the launch of our recent Artist Against Racism (aarcharity.org) campaign in March in Toronto. He captured my interest intrigue then, and I love how he shared his story through the book in such an easy to hear, easy to understand language, peppered with the humor and the reality that all Canadians can appreciate. Loved it. “I have told my truth the way I remember it and everything else is bullshit “ words all of us can benefit from embracing. Loved it all!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-07-18

Outta his head!

It is surprisingly light on music and songwriting and centres on Tom's personal and family life. And what a life. Tom's unpretentious delivery make it an authentic tale of a life on the wrong side of the tracks in one of Canada's most unglamourous towns. You will laugh and you will cry, and you will hear about lives in Canada that rarely get told. Disabled war vets. First Nations. The addicted. Hopefully Tom will write a sequel with more road stories .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Bouchard
  • 2017-12-10

Absolutely fantastic!!!

If Tom can sing anything like he can write, I am his new #1 fan! And as a narrator, no one but no one could have touched his performance! Simply put: amazing!