Review: Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Title: Yolk
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 400 Pages
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Summary: Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her. On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer. Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.
When I first heard about YOLK, I was immediately intrigued and added it to my TBR. Not only did I love the cover (and yes, I'm a sucker for judging a book by its cover), but the premise itself seemed really interesting. So for my 23rd birthday, my boyfriend drove me to Barnes and Noble and I picked up a copy and dove right in. So without further ado, here's my review:

As the summary explains, Jayne and June are two sisters living in NYC but living entirely different lives. Where Jayne is struggling in a cramped, dingy apartment, June is living it up in a Manhattan high rise two floors away from the penthouse. They've been estranged for a really long time, never having really liked one another, but after June seeks out Jayne to tell her that she has cancer, everything changes. Two sisters that once would do anything to be apart suddenly don't want to be alone anymore, and the consequence of their closeness is that some difficult secrets will have to come to light.

I really enjoyed reading this book! It was actually very easy to find myself getting hooked on it and sucked deep into the story. I read this book in basically two sittings, tearing through 200 pages each time. Something I also want to stress is that a character in this book is battling an eating disorder, so please read with care if that is a tough topic for you. Mary H.K. Choi is a great writer who really knows how to weave together a story, so the book felt perfectly paced and brought me along for the journey, which I really enjoyed. And seeing the differences between Jayne and June, and the lives they've lived, and the secrets they've kept, was really startling. I know that we all inherently know that everyone isn't who they seem, but seeing all of Jayne and June's complications, secrets, worries, and fears come to light really felt like a shock of cold water.

It was really interesting to see Jayne and June's dynamic unfold, even if it was a little confusing at times. For starters, this book definitely didn't feel like a YA novel to me at all, or even that much of an NA story, either. I kept picturing Jayne and June as being way older -- I think because June is supposed to be living in this fancy near-penthouse apartment and she's only 23, which is my current age right now. I don't even know anyone who could afford to live in a place like that and have a life like that straight out of college -- and I also went to a big business school in NYC! But maybe that's just my own experience talking. Regardless, as much as I enjoyed watching the story of these two sisters unfold, I still had to keep reminding myself that they were both way younger than I was picturing, even if the story felt so quintessentially adult. I still really enjoyed reading it, though!

This book also had much more of a literary lean to it, which isn't bad at all, but just isn't really my taste. So I had to go back a few times to reread passages to really understand what was going on, but once I cleared those parts up, the rest of the story progressed really nicely and I really liked it.

(Spoilers in this paragraph, skip to the next one to avoid them!) I also really liked the small detail of Jayne meeting up with Ingrid at the end of the book. It was a sweet, interesting way to show a bit of a peek behind the curtain about someone who Jayne saw and passed judgement on almost every day. And realizing that they both noticed each other -- that neither of them were as invisible to the world as they might think -- actually warmed my heart a lot. Especially since that's something that Jayne struggles with so much throughout the book -- wishing that someone would actually notice her. So seeing that Ingrid has all this time was a really sweet, down-to-earth, enlightening moment. And I also just have a random question that bothered me for literally the entire book -- if June is only 23 (my current age), how the heck does she have such a fancy high-rise apartment? Especially if she doesn't have a job??? I don't know a single NYC 23 year old that even has a job that prestigious that can make that much money when you're so young without climbing the latter. That's part of the reason that I said this book doesn't even feel like a YA story at all, since I pictured them both as being so much older.

Overall, I really enjoyed YOLK and would recommend it to anyone looking for a deep, emotional roller coaster of a story. Mary H.K. Choi is a beautiful writer who certainly has a way with words, and I tore through this book at such a quick pace because I just kept wanting to know what was going to happen next. If this book isn't on your TBR already, I definitely recommend checking it out!

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