quotes Elisquared likes

"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



Authors(s): Mary H.K. Choi
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook; 400 pgs
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Kindle Audible
Bookshop.org - Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tour Schedule

Week One
3/1/2021 - Westveil Publishing - Excerpt
3/1/2021 - A Dream Within A Dream - Excerpt
3/2/2021 - BookHounds YA - Spotlight
3/2/2021 - Book-Keeping - Review
3/3/2021 - Lifestyle of Me - Review
3/3/2021 - What A Nerd Girl Says - Review
3/4/2021 - Momfluenster - Spotlight
3/4/2021 - Not In Jersey - Review
3/5/2021 - Kait Plus Books - Spotlight
3/5/2021 - Trapped Inside Stories - Spotlight

Week Two
3/8/2021 - My Fictional Oasis - Review
3/8/2021 - Eli to the nth - Review
3/9/2021 - The Scribe Owl - Review
3/9/2021 - Nay's Pink Bookshelf - Review
3/10/2021 - Lala’s Book Reviews - Review
3/10/2021 - The Mind of a Book Dragon - Review
3/11/2021 - Odd and Bookish - Review
3/11/2021 - Little Red Reads - Review
3/12/2021 - Amani's Reviews - Review
3/12/2021 - michellemengsbookblog - Review

The Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters switching places and committing insurance fraud to save one of their lives.

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.

My Review

Trigger warnings: long-term eating disorder 

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi is a both a punch to the gut and a quiet resonance exploring the layers upon layers that sisters and daughters have in relationship to each other and their families.

June and Jayne Baek grew up in San Antonio by way of Seoul, and have both landed in New York City as adults. But at this point in their lives they could be strangers.  Barely acknowledging the existence of each other until June, the eldest by 3 years, calls Jayne to her high-rise NYC apartment to rely that June is sick; really sick.  Has cancer sick.  What happens after is a journey of two sisters, who can easily hurt each other with the littlest thing, coming to together, hesitantly and with distrust, to find a love that they both so deeply want.

This books, as with all Choi books, is a character study, filled with narrative and introspection; very much what is expected, and welcomed, from one of her books.  But what I appreciated was the focus on family, specifically sisters, and how very complex that relationship is.  Told from Jayne's perspective, we see how a little sister, one who is from a Korean household with the added cultural expectations of the family dynamic, experiences life in the shadow of such a successful big sister.  But we also see how Jayne's own personal issues have translated that relationship to , perhaps, something it wasn't meant to be.  The relationship gets turned on it's head with June's announcement of her illness, and we do see Jayne taking up more of a mantel of the caregiver, but through those actions she reflects on the time June took care of her.

With a delicate hand, Choi peels the layers out to explore within the context of this tumultuous relationship.  The pacing mimics real life, with it's ebbs and flows--sometimes you meander down a quiet stream, and others you crash through harsh rapids.  But through it all is the center: June and Jayne and their love for one another.  Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi marks another homerun for the author.

Final Rating

        Depending on where I focus and how much pressure I apply to the back of my throat, I can just about blot him out. Him being Jeremy. Him who never shuts up. Him being my ex. He whose arm is clamped around the back of the café chair that belongs to another girl. She’s startlingly pretty, this one. Translucent and thin. Achingly so. She has shimmering lavender hair and wide-set, vacant eyes. Her name is Rae and when she offers her cold, large hand, I instinctively search her face for any hint of cosmetic surgery. Her lids, her lips, the tip of her nose. Her boots are Ann Demeulemeester, the ones with hundreds of yards of lace, and her ragged men’s jacket, Comme.
        “I like your boots,” I tell her, needing her to know that I know, and immediately hating myself for it. I’m so intimidated I could choke. She smiles with such indulgent kindness I feel worse. She’s not at all threatened by me.
        “I got them here,” she tells me in faultless English. I don’t ask her where there might be.
        Jeremy says I’m obsessed with other women. He might be right. Then again, someone once described Jeremy’s energy to me as human cocaine, and they were definitely right.
        “Mortifying.” He shudders, blotting his slick mouth with a black cloth napkin. Jeremy’s the only one eating a full-on meal here at Léon. A lunch of coq au vin. I draw in a deep breath of caramelized onion. All earthy, singed sugar.
        “Can you imagine failing at New York so publicly that you have to ‘move home’?” He does twitchy little scare quotes around the last bit. He does this without acknowledging that for him, moving home would be a few stops upstate on Metro-North, to a town called Tuxedo. A fact he glosses over when he calls himself a native New Yorker.
        I watch Rae, with a small scowl nestled above her nose, purposely apply a filter on her Instagram Story. It’s her empty espresso cup at an angle. I lean back in my wicker café chair and resume lurking her profile, which I can do in plain sight because I have a privacy shield.
        It’s the typical, enigmatic hot-girl dross on her main feed, scones cut out onto a marble surface dusted with flour, her in a party dress in a field. A photo of her taking a photo in a mirror with a film camera.
        In an image farther down, Rae is wearing a white blouse and a black cap and gown. Grinning. It’s a whole different energy. When I arrive at the caption, I close my eyes. I need a moment. I somehow sense the words before they fully register. She graduated from Oxford. It’s crushing that most of the caption is in Korean. She’s like me but so much better.
        My will to live leeches out of my skin and disappears into the atmosphere. I should be in class. I once calculated it, and a Monday, Wednesday, Friday course costs forty-seven dollars, not counting rent.
        Counting rent in this city, it’s exactly one zillion.
        “Yeah, hi.” Jeremy flags down a passing server. A curvy woman with a tight Afro turns to us, arms laden with a full tray of food. “Yeah, can you get me a clean glass of water?” He holds his smeared glass to the light.
        “I can,” she says through her teeth, crinkling her eyes and nodding in a way that suggests she’s garroting him in her mind.
        “That’s not our server,” I whisper when she leaves. As a restaurant kid, albeit a pan-Asian strip-mall operation that charges a quarter for to-go boxes, I cringe with my whole body. Jeremy shrugs.
        I check myself out in the strip of antique mirror behind Rae’s and Jeremy’s heads. I swear my face is wider now than it was this morning. And the waistband of my mom jeans digs into my gut flesh, stanching circulation in my lower belly and thighs. I can feel my heartbeat in my camel-toe. It’s a dull pain. A solid distraction from this experience. I wonder if they were talking about me before I arrived.
        I eye the communal french fries. Saliva pools in the back of my gums. Ketchup is my kryptonite. Especially swirled with ranch dressing, which I’ve trained myself to give up. The Raes of the world would never. Or they would and it would be quirky and wholesome.
        Her leg is the circumference of my arm.
        I smile at the room in a way I imagine would appear breezy yet bored in a film about heartbreak. I love this place. You’d never guess that a dumpy French restaurant from the seventies would be the new hotspot, but that’s the other thing Jeremy’s good for: knowing the migratory practices of various clout monsters. That and ignoring the tourists as he sweet-talks Oni the hostess into ushering us past the busy bar and into the seats in the way, way back.
        Someday I’m going to eat a meal in a New York restaurant by myself without burning with shame.

About the Author

Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novels Emergency Contact (2018) and Permanent Record (2019). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer. She attended a large public high school in a suburb of San Antonio, then college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Textile and Apparel.
2 winners will win a finished copy of YOLK, US Only.


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