We Both Have Scars


96 pages
ISBN 0-02-953546-8
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Janet Wilson
Reviewed by Laurence Steven

Laurence Steven is Chairman of the English Department at Laurentian
University and author of Dissociation and Wholeness in Patrick White’s


This novel, in nine brief chapters, reflects the diversity of the
Canadian cultural mosaic; it tells the story of Dinh, a young Cambodian
immigrant to Canada. In his struggle to be accepted by his peers, Dinh
must confront the issue of racial intolerance. The conflict between Dinh
and Brandon, a student at Dinh’s new school, escalates until the
principal puts both boys into a detention group that is referred to as
“the Breakfast Club.” The conflict between the two boys, which also
involves other members of the club, dissolves when they must depend on
one another during a ski trip. In the harmonious conclusion, all the
characters have disposed of any racist preconceptions or barriers they
might have held at the beginning of the novel.

The novel is suitable for those aged 10-13. The plot is well structured
and fluid, though it sometimes seems contrived. The story never quite
escapes its status as vehicle for social commentary on racism in
Canadian society. Perhaps most important is the book’s usability; it
could easily be employed in a classroom setting to combat the ills of
racism. In Canada, where many races live together, racism remains
(unfortunately) a fact of life. This story, with its positive messages
of racial and social equality, is both informative and entertaining.


Kropp, Paul., “We Both Have Scars,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24498.