What a fantastic book this was - I read it in an afternoon! The story is told from the perspective of teenaged Mary whose family immigrated to Toronto from South Korea when she was a child. Her parents work tirelessly operating a downtown corner store in order to provide Mary and her brother Josh with better lives.
The author beautifully illustrates the struggle immigrant children, and particularly girls, face when trying to reconcile the hopes, dreams and values of their parents, with their own which are shaped by the Canadian society around them.
Mary very much wants to be a writer, but her parents want her to study something more practical - law or education. They also want her to marry a nice Korean boy and go to great lengths to arrange a match for her. Instead she has a terrible crush on her white, older English teacher. When she graduates from high school she is faced with choosing between these two men as well as deciding what to pursue in university.
In addition to Mary's family there are a host of other interesting supporting characters - Korean friends and family, Mary's diverse group of high school friends, the old Irish woman who lives near the store, and the taxi driver, homeless man and prostitutes who frequent the store...
Unfortunately it takes a tragic event (which I won't give away) for Mary to begin to sort out who she is and how she wants her future to unfold.
I especially enjoyed the book because of all the familiar Toronto places but I think anyone who is interested in a coming of age story, coupled with that of the immigrant experience, would enjoy this book. It's very well written and easy to read.