Catherine Hernandez brings her keen gifts for observation and compassion to bear on her dynamic first novel, Scarborough. Set largely in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Kingston/Galloway, the novel explores a compelling cast of adult and youth characters who congregate in and around a family literacy centre in Rouge Hill Public School.
Hernandez’s novel is an ensemble work, narrated in first person by community members, young and old. We meet Sylvie, a Mi’kmaq mother, and her daughter Sylvie who live in supported housing; Laura, a nervous Caucasian girl, and her racist father Cory; Edna, a Filipina salon worker, and her artistically-inclined son Bing. At the heart of the novel is Ms Hina, a newly-recruited community worker, who runs the neighbourhood literacy centre where children and their caregivers gather for stories, food, and social support. It’s Ms Hina who watches over her young charges and comments, through notes and emails, on the personal details of their lives.