*I received this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Kay’s Lucky Coin Vareity
Author: Ann Y. K. Choi
Publication Date: May 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence. A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.
Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is so wonderfully different to the many novels I’ve been reading lately. The story of a Korean family who immigrated to Canada and have worked with everything they’ve got to establish a life, parents to offer a better life for their children, and children to succeed and meet their family’s expectations in this new country. This story is tough and brutally honest. Choi doesn’t hold back when it comes to the struggles of Mary (Yu Rhee) and her family. From assault, sexual exploitation, death, unrealized dreams to forbidden love and familial expectations, Choi’s novel exposes the harsh reality of growing up in a country with an often startlingly different way of life while holding on to one’s own culture and values.
While I cannot directly relate to Mary’s experience growing up in Canada, as my own family has been born and raised in Canada for generations, this book was nevertheless heart-wrenching and eye opening. It is so wonderful to read about my home city in a story that is honest, real, and both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Choi brings us a true Canadian story and it’s a story that many Canadians, recent immigrants or readers settled here for generations, will relate to. It is Choi’s story is a commonly occuring story for many who live in this country and in this city. It’s fantastic to hear a fresh new voice telling such a captivating tale.