While they both left Texas for an exciting life in NYC, Jayne and June Baek could not be more different. Jayne blows off class to drink vodka sodas and pine over an artsy dude who, frankly, isn’t worth her time yet is allowed to mooch off her already terrible apartment. She’s floundering and secretly trying to keep her bulimia under control. Her older sister, on the other hand, lives life by the book. She’s got a swanky apartment in Manhattan, a secure job in finance, and maintains Korean traditions with her parents. Naturally, Jayne avoids June at all costs…until she can’t anymore. All at once, Jayne’s living situation becomes unbearable and June reveals she has cancer and needs Jayne’s help. The sisters are bound together by circumstance, yes, but also by years of unresolved adolescent trauma that they both handled very differently.
Choi captures the raw, messy side of being a 20-something in New York. It felt all too real seeing one character living in an illegal Brooklyn sublet, another in a high rise doorman building, and another who lucked into an apartment financed by parents. The paths these characters have taken are as different as their apartments, yet they’re all surviving in the same small space of New York. There is a pull of the familiar that grounds each of them. Whether it’s filial piety, hometown nostalgia, or the bond of sisters that can’t be ignored even when you hate each other, they all find comfort in the known.
One note: this book is shelved as YA but honestly doesn’t read like it. Just because the characters are under 25 means it’s YA? Nah. This book is great regardless of where you may find it in the bookstore.
5 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: Bombay Sapphire martini, two olives, up.