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From New York Times bestselling 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...
From New York Times bestselling 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...
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  • From New York Times bestselling 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 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?

About the Author-

  • Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. Her novels Emergency Contact and Permanent Record were New York Times bestsellers. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs, and Hey, Cool Life!, a podcast about mental health and creativity. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ChoitotheWorld.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 11, 2021
    In this reflective, deliberately paced novel told from a younger sibling's point of view, Choi (Permanent Record) examines the relationship between two Korean American sisters. Ambitious older sister June and impulsive Jayne had a love-hate relationship throughout their Texas childhood, and though they both now live in New York City, they've become fully estranged. June is a corporate success, working in hedge funds, while Jayne attends fashion design school and struggles to make it to class. The silence between the two ends, however, when June reveals that she has cancer. For the first time, Jayne, always protected by her older sibling, plays the supportive role, cooking and cleaning June's posh Manhattan apartment. Insightful and intricately constructed, Choi's novel provides a tender look at the sisters' layered bond while addressing aspects of Jayne's experience, including sibling resentment, anxious efforts to navigate relationships, and a long-term eating disorder. If the story takes its time unfolding amid running social commentary, the result is an appreciably personal-feeling narrative about cultural identity, mental and physical health, and siblinghood's complications. Ages 14–up. Agent: Edward Orloff, McCormick Literary.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2021
    A young woman struggles with body image, sexuality, identity issues, and her place in the world. College student Jayne Baek majors in marketing at an unnamed New York City fashion school and strives to belong to in-crowds even as her first-person narrative voice delivers searing appraisals of artifice and curated personae contrived to attract attention and adoration. Jayne's perfectionist streak combines with her hunger for acceptance and affirmation, feeding into obsessive, compulsive--and ultimately self-destructive--behaviors, including hookups and rituals of bulimia, all providing only the illusion of control. Accustomed to an heir-and-spare dynamic with her elder sister, June, who got a full scholarship to Columbia and a hedge fund job, Jayne's existential insecurity crystallizes upon learning the shocking news that June has cancer. Jayne's fancily attired therapist emphasizes co-pays before referring her to a support group, with the advice that people--not places--will make Jayne feel at home, offering the opportunity for nuanced commentary. Reconnecting with Patrick Jang, an acquaintance from her San Antonio, Texas, childhood who is also of Korean descent, becomes an emotional salve and anchoring influence for Jayne, especially as mutual consent is sought at every stage of their intimacy. Portraying intergenerational immigrant experiences with a Korean cultural focus, this poignant story underscores self-sacrifices that prove to be life-sustaining in the name of sisterly love. Intense, raw, textured. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2021
    Grades 11-12 In her third novel, Choi (Permanent Record, 2019) pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction. Ji-young Baek, or Jayne, is a fashion marketing student at a Manhattan design college when her overachieving older sister, June, tracks her down to tell her that she has cancer. The sisters' relationship has been one of intense conflict since high school, but now the cancer brings them into an awkward closeness, forcing them outside their selfish bubbles as they unite in hiding June's illness from their overly critical mother back in Texas. But June is not the only one who is sick. Jayne's mental health issues present as a self-destructive chaos of binge drinking, bulimia, and sex with boys who are bad to her. Fortunately, she reconnects with an old crush, Patrick, a fellow child of Korean immigrants who offers much-needed tenderness and understanding. Choi's trademark witty prose and wonderfully authentic immersion in contemporary New York City lighten the intimate details that can make the sisters' darker experiences disturbing to read. Thankfully, the novel ends on a note of hope and healing.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2021

    Gr 9 Up-Jayne Baek's carefully curated identity as a young college student studying fashion marketing in New York City begins to crack when her older sister, June (who also lives in the city and from whom she's estranged), shares her cancer diagnosis. The siblings are accustomed to keeping secrets-Jayne lives in a squalorous illegal sublet with a manipulative ex-boyfriend while June is dealing with serious work issues at her hedge fund job-but despite their emotional distance, they remain steadfastly committed to each other. This loyalty is largely due to June's role as a maternal stand-in for Jayne during their childhood when their Korean immigrant parents worked 16-hour days in their family restaurant in San Antonio, TX, as well as later in their teens when their mother inexplicably disappeared only to return weeks later with no explanation. Readers see Jayne's initially superficial musings on style and culture give way to a layered narrative that progressively gains depth. This novel is messy and honest with its nuanced cultural portrayals; Choi makes it clear that people of Korean descent in America are not a monolith. Choi also portrays Jayne's complex struggle with disordered eating with rawness and sensitivity. The evenly paced storytelling is winning and cinematic, particularly with respect to Jayne's developing relationship with childhood friend Patrick. Here, Choi masterfully depicts burgeoning sexuality and the politics of consent with incredible tenderness. VERDICT Readers of color, particularly those with immigrant and first-generation heritages, will strongly relate to themes centering intergenerational dependence and trauma, as well as the complicated experience of navigating multiple cultures. A must-have for teen and new adult collections.-Lalitha Nataraj, California State Univ., San Marcos

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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