Reviews of Yolk by Mary Choi

Yolk

by Mary Choi

Yolk by Mary Choi X
Yolk by Mary Choi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2021, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2022, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Book Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they'll go to save one of their lives - even if it means swapping identities.

Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June's three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad's money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don't want anything to do with each other.

That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

Flung together by circumstance, housing woes, and family secrets, will the sisters learn more about each other than they're willing to confront? And what if while helping June, Jayne has to confront the fact that maybe she's sick, too?



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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In dealing with issues specific to the transitory nature of late adolescence for a young adult audience, Choi also effectively addresses the combined pressure and hunger that comes with being a child of immigrants — the sense of being deprived of a standard-issue existence alongside the impulse to push aside this deprivation to make way for success. She shows how these feelings may result in a desperate need for love and acceptance that can, somewhat insultingly, only be found by embracing the unpredictable nature of life. Her decision to wrap up certain plot points while leaving others hanging feels deliberate, a statement about how difficult the slightest uncertainty can feel even when an outcome appears hopeful...continued

Full Review (934 words).

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(Reviewed by Elisabeth Cook).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Captivating, with quotable one-liners pinging on every page.

NPR
Choi has a real gift for creating a character so real and complex that she can crack his psyche open like a melon and pick through all the gnarly seeds.

Shelf Awareness
What lingers longest is the resonating, multifaceted story of Jayne and June Baek...[Choi's] openness—personally, culturally, geographically—gives her narrative a seamless, insider fluency; her writing is consistently assured, her dialogue nimbly tuned, even her pain potently channeled through Jayne's struggles.

Booklist (starred review)
Choi has penned a smart and funny read that is as much about finding your path as it is about falling in love...Choi's specificity, realistic dialogue, and humor ensure that the personal and romantic journeys feel warm and rewarding, but never saccharine.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] reflective, deliberately paced novel...If the story takes its time unfolding amid running social commentary, the result is an appreciably personal-feeling narrative about cultural identity, mental and physical health, and siblinghood's complications.

Kirkus Reviews
Portraying intergenerational immigrant experiences with a Korean cultural focus, this poignant story underscores self-sacrifices that prove to be life-sustaining in the name of sisterly love. Intense, raw, textured.

Library Journal
Choi pulls from themes in her previous book, Emergency Contact, and has created a compelling and quirky tale of love and negotiating early adulthood in New York City.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Gilmore Girls, Lane Kim and Asian Americans on Television

In Mary H.K. Choi's Yolk, June is particularly fond of the Warner Brothers (WB) Network television series Gilmore Girls. At first glance, the show seems like a somewhat anachronistic and unlikely pop culture presence in the novel. Set in Connecticut, it first aired in 2000; Choi's characters June and Jayne, Korean American sisters living in contemporary New York City, are only a few years out of high school, meaning they may have been too young to watch the show at the time it was originally broadcast. However, as Jayne explains it, their family didn't have cable, so instead of watching television, they marathoned the Gilmore Girls and Friends box sets over and over on a DVD player their father purchased on sale from Costco. The show is a ...

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