The title of this novel really intrigued me. So, when I saw it on the shelf of my library, I decided to read it.
Mary, named Yu-Rhee at birth, is a Korean girl growing up with her brother above her parents’ convenience store on Queen Street West in Toronto in the 1980s. She was caught between two cultures. She struggles to make her parents understand what she really wants is to be a Canadian.
Mary soon learns that life is much more complicated than she ever imagined. While her parents’ world centres on their store with its endless hours and low financial rewards, she has her first adult encounters with family secrets, a lot aunt, and forbidden love. If only she could escape the drudgery. If only her mother would not try to run her life. If only she could fulfill adolescent dream of being a writer.
When Mary’s secret passion for her English teacher, Mr. Allen, is threatened by her mother’s matchmaking with a promising Korean suitor, she imagines escaping to Europe. But events soon escalate, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence. Can Mary’s dreams survive in the face of cultural divides and racism?
This story is a poignant coming of age story which explores the struggle that immigrant families face as they sacrifice so much to offer their children opportunity. Choi captures the unspoken bonds between women – mothers, daughters, best friends and aunts whose love for one another crosses generations and continents.
Rating: 5 stars
Irene S. Roth