“Sneaks up on you with its insight and poignancy.” —Entertainment Weekly
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 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?
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.