S. & S. Mar. 2021. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534446007.
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.

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