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Publisher's Summary

In Scarborough, a low-income urban neighborhood, three kids struggle to rise above poverty, abuse, and a system that consistently fails them. The adults in their lives either rise to the occasion or fall by the wayside; together, they make up a troubled yet inspired community that refuses to be undone.

©2017 Catherine Hernandez (P)2018 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ2S+

Go Behind the Scenes of Scarborough

In a conversation with Audible at the 2019 Festival of Literary Diversity in Brampton, Ontario, author Catherine Hernandez explains why it was important for her to represent the LGBTQ+ community in her work.
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Editorial Review

Be moved by this hard-hitting, raw novel that will transport you right from your home to the streets of Scarborough.

Scarborough is the debut novel by Catherine Hernandez, a Canadian writer and native of the GTA. This stunning book was shortlisted as one of the best book finalists for the Toronto Book Awards in 2017, and the Edmund White Award in 2018 was highlighted by Canada Reads. Since its release, it has been moving and educating audiences with its robust look at poverty, prejudice, abuse and the failings of an inherently flawed system.

The story takes place in Scarborough, Ontario, a suburban city of Toronto known for having drastic differences between its wealthy and poor communities. While some areas are full of opulence, others live in low-income and crime-heavy areas. Hernandez’s coming of age story highlights both aspects and the juxtaposition between the two, as well as the striking differences between communities and households of different races. The result is a challenging and powerful take on identity and prejudice, which forces you to take a hard look at yourself and your own biases and privileges.

Moving and eye-opening, this audiobook will change you. Catherine Hernandez narrates the unabridged story herself, adding a depth of knowledge and understanding that only she, as the creator, could. The result is an emotion-fueled reading that focuses on the representation and accessibility of communities - such as LGBTQ communities and minorities - which are often overlooked. It makes you see things from her eyes. Whether you are from Canada or not, have run the streets of Toronto, or know nothing of the area, this story will resonate with you and connect on a deeply personal level. A powerful listen you have to hear for yourself. It is a must-add to your Audible wishlist.

What listeners say about Scarborough

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  • 2019-09-19

Overrated

I didn't like it. The characters are too obvious - white adults are the unidimensionally trashy entitled people, all children suffer all the time, and non white adults are 100% good. The drama is sooo over the top I at some points almost laughed. I get it, racism is terrible and minorities are victimized by privileged people. But this is definitely not my style of writing - would go well on a Mexican telenovela.

I truly expected more layered characters with more engaging personalities, and less of a good vs evil battle. There is so much to be said on the struggles of the minorities in Canada, this book felt pretentious and shallow. I really didn't like it and am very frustrated.

11 people found this helpful

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This book made me a more empathetic person.

I was hooked from the begging and never last interest for a second! I am in love with this book and the author. Everyone should read this book in order to investigate where we are judging others and ourselves and start to unearth it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

10 people found this helpful

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beautiful

oh my goodness, this was so beautiful. living in Toronto made the story that much more powerful. the different perspectives was done so well. I won't forget it

6 people found this helpful

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Boring

The narrator spoke to fast and the story was hard to follow, incredibly boring. I didn't even finish the last half an hour because I was over it. The narrator's voice when voicing Bing made my ears hurt.

5 people found this helpful

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Stunning read.

This is the most engaging story I’ve encountered in a long time. The narration is perfect. I thought I understood poverty. I did not. I think I have a clearer idea now. Poverty, race, politics, neglect, addiction - it’s all a part of the Rouge Hill lives illustrated here. The stories are at times gut wrenching and heart breaking but we need to know! This book changed me. The last chapter was exhilarating. Thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

As a Scarborough resident, it was amazing to listen to a story told about all the familiar places and to recognize local characters as they are discussed. Definitely recommend.

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Where trauma meets resilience and endurance

I really enjoyed the compelling and familiar characters, and the first person narration from different points of view. Having the same events explored from different perspectives made for a very nuanced story.

We see in our communities many like Hina who hold space for those who have none of their own and who help the most marginalized to contend with their struggles. This book was a great tribute to their compassion and practical care.

Many social issues impact both the adults and children in Scarborough, but the story resists any and all easy answers, right up until the last chapter. At that point, the significant change in focus - away from the concrete specifics of a particular time - lost me a little. Nonetheless, I'd highly recommend this book an involving and important Canadian read.

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Much better than expected. Good narration.

Usually short story type collections end up around 3 stars for me, simply because some stories hit and some miss. It’s the nature of the beast, for me. But I found this to be a very tight slice-of-life collection of Toronto, painting an intricate portrait. Each, I think, is necessary to form this sum. So even if some aren’t “my favourite”, more so than other books like this, this met and exceeded my expectations.

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Relatable representation!

I was wary of this book at first because I read other reviews that made me think this was a “bashing white ppl” book. In my black a** opinion, it is not a bashing book. Its stories about people of different cultures feeding into stereotypes... hopefully it’s to show us just how foolish those stereotypes can be when you don’t know a person’s whole story. The characters feel like imperfect people trying to get through their lives without the leg up they deserve. Many of the stories are similar to real life events that happened to me, friends and family. I didn’t grow up in Scarborough (west end 4 life! lol) but it felt like an ode to being raised in a multicultural city that didn’t treat us very friendly, while also showing me what my fellow ppl of colour might have been suffering. I appreciate Hernandez for this book. I wasn’t always a fan of her narration and rated it “okay”.

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amazing read

As a Trini and a Scarborough native, I was transported to my coming of age years while also enlightened about the experiences of those that I only encountered in passing. Hernandez provides an honest rendition of the sights and sounds that make up this borough in East Toronto. Heartfelt, thought-provoking, maddening, happy, moving - this is Scarborough.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Erna
  • 2020-01-30

Difficult but excellent!

Well written. Bings into the open a whole lot of truths we too often ignore wherever we live. Congratulations to the author for setting them in print and audio.

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  • A. Belden
  • 2022-04-17

Beautifully Written, Heart wrenching

I stumbled on this book via tiktok because the dedication brought me to tears: "I was fifteen, you were four. I taught you drama in a Scarborough community center. You were surviving neglect. Wherever you are, I hope you are safe, and know that I loved you enough to write you this book."

Best book I've read all year. It is read by the author. Not a single dull moment, such a beautifully written book.



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  • Sara Newman
  • 2020-01-15

I’m breathless. This is a treasure. And I’m changed by it.

From the beginning to the end Scarborough has left me caressing every character wanting not to assume their stories but hear their experience - that of homelessness of single parents and children in Scarborough, the East end of the Greater Toronto area in Canada.
Each voice woven in and out around a particular location has such a core authenticity, and gripping heart I will surely listen several times to this.
Catherine’s read of her work was so beautiful it’s hard to imagine she is an author and not a voice over actor (no offense to authors)

Lastly, I do hope this is added to high school curriculums for both its style regarding the use of different voices and structure, and it’s importance in bringing forth the importance of child poverty and homelessness in Canada.


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  • Agnes
  • 2019-06-25

feels like coming home

Having grown up in Scarborough, the familiar street namesand bus route numbers remind me of my school days. Having moved to mother Ontario, the Aborigonal culture references remind me of my new home as well. Great story, the illustrations of racism and acceptance were so real, and the victories, both great and small, so bittersweet.

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  • Alanna
  • 2018-07-21

Every teacher needs type read this

😁 such diversity and complexity in this tragic hopeful and sometimes funny book. I’ll be following Catherine Hernandez forever.

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  • Colleen
  • 2018-05-06

Excellent

Found myself planning walks in that community to landmark those referenced in the story. Very moving story.