Two Book Tuesday

Getting the chance to read an early copy of a new release from one of my favorite authors is the biggest motivator to keep this baby going.

Title: Yolk
Author: Mary H.K.
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters switching places and committing insurance fraud to save one of their lives.

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.


***TRIGGER WARNINGS***

I wish I could speak more eloquently about this book, but this seems to be another instances where I like something so much, I just want to scream all about it.

Mary H.K. Choi’s books just get better and better. She is bridging the gap between traditional YA and the confusing genre of New Adult. She does an incredible job of exploring characters that are at seminal points in their life. It’s so hard to capture all the wonderful things about this book: the strained relationship between two sisters, a blossoming second-chance romance, and the struggle of being unsure of your identity. Choi’s writing is beautiful and complex with the push and pull of Jayne and June as they are navigating through this new point in their relationship.

All Jayne wanted was to get out of her Texas town and move to NYC, but she’s struggling through art school, aN unhealthy one-sided relationship, and a lingering eating disorder. Her successful older sister June, also lives in NYC with a huge job and a lucrative career, but now she needs Jayne’s help.

It’s hard to think ill will of someone with cancer, but June is not a likable character. She’s harsh and bitter, but as the story plays out, you notice that this might just be used as a defense mechanism with dealing with the pressures of being the perfect eldest asian daughter. June’s relationship with her sister is so contentious, but in times of trouble Jayne must set aside her hurt feelings and be there for her sister.

I would do anything for Jayne. She’s insecure yet extremely self-aware. She knows that what she does to her body and how she lets people treat her isn’t right, but she doesn’t have enough self-esteem to choose better. She wrestles with being Korean American but never feeling Korean or American enough to her peers. I wanted to hug Jayne. Her anxiety and disordered eating has followed her through childhood to young adulthood. No one in her family sees the real her.

If you enjoyed Mary H.K. Choi’s other books even a little bit, I definitely recommend picking this up.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Castle School
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief―and the real reasons her parents sent her away.


***TRIGGER WARNINGS***

I find the summary to be kind of misleading. This is more of a hard-hitting contemporary, but the summary sounds like it’s some sort of mystery/thriller about a spooky boarding school.

Moira’s life starts to unravel once she starts skipping school and sneaking out to be with her sick best friend. Once her friend is gone, why bother returning to school? Her parents have had enough and send her away to the middle of nowhere—the Castle School, a school for troubled girls. One night, Moira hears music in the distance and decides to sneak out with her roommate. She had no idea that she would find an identical Castle School that houses all boys. Why are they being kept separate? And why are they being treated differently, too?

So I can see where the whole second castle idea can seem mysterious, but this was first and foremost a mental health story. Through trauma, grief, and counseling the girls at this school learn how to overcome their demons and go on to live more fulfilling lives. Moira is hesitant at first, not thinking she really needs to be there, but once she leans in to the practices of the school, she gets a lot out of it.

I enjoyed getting to know all the girls at the Castle School and loved that there were such a wide range of mental health issues being covered—eating disorders, OCD, self harm, depression, ect. All the girls felt unique and authentic as they each dealt with their specific issue in different ways. I never felt that the writing was too overwhelming with the number of mental illnesses being tackled and I think the author did a really great job.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s