Kay's Lucky Coin Variety

Kay's Lucky Coin Variety

  • 2
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.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501156120 | 
  • March 2017
List Price $19.99 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

Questions for Discussion

1. Examine possible reasons why Mary’s family left South Korea. Why might they have chosen to immigrate to Canada?

2. Mary’s younger brother Josh is more accepting of their Korean heritage. Describe how that affects his relationship with his sister.

3. Mrs. O’Doherty, an elderly customer, tells Mary she came to Canada in 1916 from Ireland. Mary and her family came in 1975 from South Korea. Consider their different immigrant experiences in Toronto.

4. The family has a unique place in the community. What role does the variety store serve in the lives of its customers?

5. Mary’s family members protect themselves from pain by ignoring or repressing their feelings. Consider some of the consequences of this for each character.

6. Consider how Mary’s relationship with Will Allen changes throughout the novel. What role do race, ethnicity, and age play? How does Mary try to change him, and what does she learn about herself as a result?

7. Mary discovers some surprising truths about Aunt Mira, her mother’s lost sister. How do Mira’s choices in life help Mary understand love?

8. Mary plays many roles with the different people in her life. Do you observe any changes in her behaviour and attitude depending on whom she is interacting with? Do different people bring out different behav see more

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About the Author

Ann Y. K. Choi
Photograph (c) John Burridge

Ann Y. K. Choi

Originally from South Korea, Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada in 1975. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto. Most recently, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. The story, set in the 1980s, was inspired by her experiences working in her family-run variety store. A teacher with the York Region District School Board, Ann lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.