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“Yolk” by Mary H.K. Choi: An Honest Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If your “For You Page” on TikTok is anything like mine, you happen upon a LOT of book recommendations.

If you’re also like me, you have the undying urge to buy and read every single one of those books. This time around, the book that piqued my interest was Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of never judging a book by its cover. Some of the greatest books have the most boring covers ever created. But I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that Yolk‘s vibrant yellow color and beautiful illustration on the front cover didn’t immediately draw me in. 

This is a *spoiler free* book review!

Yolk essentially tells the story of two Korean-American sisters Jayne and June.

Written from the perspective of Jayne, who is three years younger, the book explores a relationship between sisters that, although at one time was so close, has now become so distant. 

Right off the bat, the reader gains insight into the inner workings of Jayne’s mind. It’s refreshing to see the character of Jayne, a young woman living in New York City, written by an actual young woman. 

There is a certain authenticity in Choi’s writing that bleeds from the pages of Yolk and captivates, commanding the reader’s attention.

Jayne struggles heavily with self-acceptance and body image, which Choi writes with such brutal honesty that I think many young people today can relate to. Written from the perspective of a struggling college student, Yolk also serves as a commentary for today’s hook-up/dating culture and navigating difficult relationships in a big city. No matter the opinion on either of those topics, Yolk presents them with full transparency. From Jayne’s self-destructive social media use, to navigating male validation, it is clear that Choi’s intentions were not to write likable characters, but instead honest characters that you could happen to like. This difference may seem small, but it is what turns a good book into a great one.

Focusing more on June’s and Jayne’s sisterhood, while both live in New York City, their lives could not be more opposite.

June is accomplished, living in a nice apartment.

Jayne is living in a sketchy apartment she found on Craigslist.

June has a great, well-paying finance job.

Jayne is in college, loathes classes, and goes out every night.

June keeps trying to get in touch with Jayne.

Jayne keeps ignoring June’s calls and messages saying they need to talk.

June tells Jayne she has cancer.

Jayne is afraid her sister is going to die.

And suddenly, everything changes.

The way Mary H.K. Choi writes the internal processing of Jayne is genius. I have read very few books that can truly articulate the feelings of a young person growing up today. Choi includes the impulsive and off-beat thoughts that Jayne experiences in wake of this news, including the “selfish” questions that come along with grief and fear. The “What will I do if MY sister dies?” questions. 

The writing is so accurate to the realities of life and deals with big emotions while navigating the loss of camaraderie in sisterhood — in all its nostalgic glory.

I could write for hours about the complexities and intricacies of Mary H.K Choi’s impeccable plot development seen in Yolk, but for the sake of preventing spoilers — and your sanity — I will end with my final praises:

Yolk is fresh, witty, poignant, and entertaining, easily making it the newest addition to my list of favorites. I can’t recommend it enough to everyone – especially those who have a sister or are dealing with the struggles of self-love and being confident in their own skin.

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Samantha Baldacci

U Mass Amherst '25

Sam is currently a Junior at UMass Amherst studying Biology and Psychology. She enjoys reading, listening to music, aimlessly scrolling on TikTok, and hanging out with friends.