Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Publish date: May 3, 2016
I’d seen book bloggers in the community talking about this new novel, and how they couldn’t wait to read their copies. Well, of course I had to see what all the hype was about! Going into Choi’s book with minimal background really let me immerse myself in the story, and I was definitely pulled along for the ride.
Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety tells the story of Mary (as she would come to be known) and her family that has settled into Toronto from Korea. Besides the culture-clash and identity crisis Mary struggles with growing up in 1980s Toronto, there are also the issues of violence in her family’s convenient store and having to deal with a Korean boy who loves her, and the Canadian man she loves. All of these stories come together in a beautiful tale about a girl who is on the journey of self-discovery and figuring out where she stands on her own, and where she stands as part of her family.
I immediately loved this book. The moment I opened it and started reading, I was drawn right into Mary’s world. Granted, the physical world is not much different from my own – I’m from Toronto, and every mention of a place in the city made me excited, as I imagined my own memories from those places. But when I talk about her world, I mean the world of a Korean living in Canada. I felt the struggle that Mary experienced between wanting to deviate, but also wanting to remain loyal to her family’s traditions. Wanting to follow her heart and be an independent woman, but wanting to take responsibility and help where she was needed.
I also have a really soft spot for stories with girls falling in love with their teachers, because it seems so taboo, but is such a classic experience. So the love triangle in this book was really touching to read about – especially since the characters are so realistic and well-thought out that it complicated the story and made it so the issue wasn’t entirely black and white.
Choi’s novel was absolutely beautiful and drew me in right away. I highly recommend this read to anyone who is a fan of Canadian Lit, and those who may want some insight into a culture that may not be their own. I found the culture clash one of my favourite things to read about; it was very educational and gave me a new perspective that I understood, but couldn’t experience so personally.