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  • Beautiful Scars

  • Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home
  • Written by: Tom Wilson
  • Narrated by: Tom Wilson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (98 ratings)

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Beautiful Scars

Written by: Tom Wilson
Narrated by: Tom Wilson
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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

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

"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)

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What listeners say about Beautiful Scars

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Amazing story and so well told

Starts slow, and builds into an incredible tale that couldn’t be believed if it wasn’t true. The insights into music and art, identity, addiction, love and family are so powerful. One of those books that will stay with me for a long time.
And the performance by Tom is like he was born to be audiobook narrator - perfect!

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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!!

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Amazing, heartwarming, sad, funny

a must read or listen. I listened to this from start to finish. just such an amazing story of a man returning to his circle.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Hope over pain

No one better to read this than Wilson himself! Thank you for your story of hope and love!

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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.

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What a great story.

Having grown up knowing Tom and Junkhouse this was an amazing book to listen to, especially since it was read by Tom himself. I learned more about Tom and Hamilton. Beautifully written Tom. Bravo. Thank you.

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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.

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5 stars no less

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

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Good listen

I saw Tom perform in 2021 with music and readings from his book and was compelled to buy it. In the book, his delivery is great, draws you in, and keeps you listening. Very interesting twists and turns from an unusual upbringing. It's a wonder he survived!

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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.

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