Kelly, Coordinator of the Yarker Branch, recently enjoyed reading one of the biggest new CanLit releases, Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez.
“Scarborough is the debut novel from playwright Catherine Hernandez,” Kelly explains. The book focuses on a passage of one year in the lives of community members that are associated with a literacy program at a school in Scarborough.”
“The novel, much like the actual community it portrays, is full of voices from diverse ethnic backgrounds. We meet several people in this short, multi-voiced novel. For example, Hina Hassani is South Asian, Bing is Filipino, and Sylvie is of Aboriginal heritage. The book opens with Ms. Hassani being appointed as the Program Facilitator at the Rouge Hill Public School location. She quickly realizes the difficulties of her position to only provide literacy when the program attendees need so much more. They need food so they can concentrate on their studies, clothes they can wear for a Hallowe’en costume, and someone who seems to actually care about them. Hina’s character tries to support the participants of the program as well as their caregivers. Her actions are integral to the changes in the lives of many of the marginalized characters.”
While reading this I was reminded of Miriam Toews book All My Puny Sorrows. As with that book, it is an unflinching portrayal of the choices some people make.
“This is not an easy read but it is compelling,” she says. “There are very bleak, gritty moments full of despair and the inability to see anything positive. Secrets and difficult truths abound and poverty, bad choices, and a frustrating system feature here. This is, however, balanced with wonderful events and small moments. Life affirming connections are made and there are unexpected successes. Hope, joy, and acceptance are portrayed. Fortunately, these more positive experiences are not limited to those with money or power, but are felt in the hearts of those in this community.”
Kelly concludes, “while reading this I was reminded of Miriam Toews book All My Puny Sorrows. As with that book, it is an unflinching portrayal of the choices some people make (or don’t make) and how those decisions affect not just the decision maker, but a whole community of people.”
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