cover image Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

Ann Y.K. Choi. Simon & Schuster Canada/Bruce, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4767-4805-4

Choi’s debut novel is an enjoyable coming-of-age story that celebrates the triumphs and mourns the losses in the life of a young woman finding her way as a Korean immigrant in Toronto in the 1980s. Six-year-old Yu-Rhee is renamed Mary to comply with a school board policy intended to help immigrant children fit in better. As a teen, she struggles to accept her family responsibilities—working in her parents’ convenience store, maintaining her Korean identity, accomplishing everything expected of her. She begins to assert her independence in her aspiration to be a writer. While in university she becomes involved with a Korean student and with her former high school English teacher. The novel explores some cultural and racial issues, but it is focused mainly on Mary’s personal journey to establish an identity that balances her Korean roots with new growth that sprouts in a new country. Along the way, she begins to understand more about her family, particularly who her mother is and what she sacrificed. These are now familiar themes in the stories of families immigrating to Canada from diverse places, but aside from that conventionality, Choi’s novel is a gratifying read, a story clearly and honestly told. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (May)