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Yolk  By  cover art

Yolk

By: Mary H. K. Choi
Narrated by: Joy Osmanski
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Publisher's Summary

“Sneaks up on you with its insight and poignancy.” (Entertainment Weekly)

From New York Times best-selling 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?

©2021 Mary H. K. Choi. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Listeners will appreciate Osmanski’s dramatic flair, which allows listeners to feel the conflicts between the two sisters in this contemporary story of sibling rivalry." (AudioFile Magazine)

Editor's Pick

Sister, sister
Yolk acquaints us with two sisters who lead starkly different lives but remain inextricably linked, not only through DNA but also a history spanning the mundane and the unforgivable. In Jayne and June’s case, trauma creates another dynamic, fostering divides and decades of hidden and not-so-hidden resentments, judgments, and consequences. Their adversarial relationship is crystallized in their formative years while living in Texas after the family’s immigration from Seoul. Choi is so adept at crafting beautifully imperfect, real characters that I half expected to get a text from one of them while listening. When June is diagnosed with cancer, the sisters’ long-held beliefs about each other are tested, and deeper questions reveal themselves that they must unravel in the midst of crisis. Set in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and San Antonio, Yolk pulls you in with atmosphere and aching, emotional depth. As a sister myself, this is one that will stay with me for a long time for all the best reasons. —[Kelley S., Audible Editor]

What listeners say about Yolk

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  • Overall
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Most human book I’ve read about this inhuman time

The story is very contemporary but at the same time very bodily and feminist. Also great descriptions of New Yorkers!

5 people found this helpful

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Almost gave up but I’m glad I didn’t.

I was appalled at the venom these two sisters hurled at each other for the first 20 or so chapters. I have siblings. I can’t imagine speaking to any of them the way these characters treated each other. I wish that setting up part of the story were shorter. I was beginning to wonder if there was anything redeeming about these two sisters.

It gets interesting by chapter 23. There’s a lot to chew on -sibling relationships, immigrant parents, Asian culture, starting out in a very foreign country or a new city. All these played out through these people’s lives. One gets to see how being a minority in a mostly white town must have been for a child to grow up in. Or how the lack of communication among family members can cause so much dysfunction and pain.

1 person found this helpful

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So good!!!!

Wonderfully written story of two Koran American sisters and their struggles to become independent adults in NYC. Well drawn characters show us their family relationships, and internal conflict, and insights as they navigate school, work, and romance.

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wow.

it was just simply beautiful. there is no better way to put it than that.

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WHO LET MARK HK CHOI BE THIS GOOD AT WRITING !!!!!!!!!!!

wow. i am speechless. never have i ever met a book that is so wholly encompassing of my human experience on earth before laying my hands on a copy of Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi. i inhaled this audiobook in one sitting, i couldn’t listen to the story fast enough, i had to know what was going to happen next immediately and it simple could not wait. each sister is so tender to me and achingly human in their imperfectness but are trying their best to survive the cards that life dealt them with dark witty humor and a good head on their shoulders. Choi handles trauma, ptsd, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders (specifically bulimia) in a way that is so generous, vulnerable, considerate, compassionate, kind, and honest, all while being truthful to her own experiences with body dysmorphia and eating disorders, which she shares in the opening content warning note as well as during her #koreadathon 2022 panel with Kat Cho, bookswithchloe, and monica kim. a must read, and super important, super special book for teens to people in their 30s, struggling with their relationships, in therapy, figuring out life.

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Good narration, but story was a bit too dramatic

I enjoyed the book overall but this would not be on my list of must-reads. Although Choi paints a vivid picture of her Korean American upbringing, I did not feel like I could relate because of how much she hates her sister. Personally, I'm not a fan of family drama so that part didn't appeal to me. However, I liked hearing about her typical New York struggles and her budding romance with her childhood friend. I also liked that the narrator did a good job with pronouncing the Korean words.

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4 Stars

That ending! What was with that cliffhanger ish ending? Did June's surgery go well? Does Jayne ever tell Patrick about her disorder?

Jayne was a character that I both related to and didn't. She felt real; she went through real problems and had real emotions. She wasn't like these characters you read about who you can't connect with and problems that don't seem real. Sure Jayne was obnoxious at points and didn't have the best taste in men (until Patrick) but she is young and still trying to find out who she is. I liked her character.

I don't know what it is like to have a sister (yet I felt connected to both sisters while reading. I could feel their connection, even while being enstangled) or what it is like to be Asian American.

I loved that every character in this book had real flaws that they were working through (or realized they needed to at the end).

I had a tsunami of emotions while reading this story and I know that I won't forget about it for a long time!

two: disordered eating, belima, parental abuse, cancer, cheating

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Messy honesty

I love the messy honesty and dark humor of this book. I don’t have a sister but this novel makes me long for one. The dialogue is intimate and profane, the way only closest family members can talk to each other.
Although this is written from a Korean American point of view, anyone with a dysfunctional immigrant family will be able to relate strongly.