Book Review: Yolk

Choi, Mary H. K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Yolk follows two sisters. They're both in their 20s and in New York City, but that's where their similarities end. Jayne is emotional, artistic, extroverted, and endlessly neurotic. June is stiff, high-performing, self-sufficient, and horrifically condescending. The two of them want nothing to with each other. But when their lives start burning up around them, and their past starts weighing down on them, they'll have to come together to find a way to move forward.
This is one of the most realistic books I've ever read. I don't mean realistic in terms of it being sad, or technical, or boring. I mean this book creates a perfect picture of sisters, children of immigrants, the weight of expectations, and the struggles of just being alive. Starting on the sisters, I loved how the author portrayed June and Jayne. Jayne is the main point of view, but the author still manages to flesh out June for the audience without too much of Jayne's bias. They're both very flawed, they're both very talented, they both hate each other, and they both love each other. Their exchanges were the best part of this book, just as snippy and reflexive as real siblings. I also liked how Jayne, the point of view, was portrayed. She clearly doesn't like herself, and lots of that goes into her narration, but the audience is still able to marvel at her courage and resourcefulness even if she doesn't see it herself. This book also went very in-depth to Asian and immigrant culture in general. You can feel the cataclysmic effects this has upon the family, and how it still effects them all decades later. You can also see the struggles with being an immigrant/minority in the US, from microaggressions to family expectations to finding the right type of noodle at the very limited amount of Asian markets. On this point, the weight of expectations is a well done, and a driving theme of the novel. Both these girls, regardless of if their successes, feel crushed by what their parents expect of them. And their parents are shown to also be conflicted, feeling like outsiders in America.
Basically, this book has very fleshed out characters, accurate relationships, and fun dialogue! I'd recommend this to anyone fascinated by New York, sisterhood, and the struggles that make life worthwhile!

Reviewer Grade: 12

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