Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi
I simultaneously hated these characters and loved them beyond words. Jayne is a hot struggling mess of a person. She moves from Texas to New York City to attend fashion school bringing a collection of baggage that new scenery can’t shake off. She lives in a dump of an apartment, illegally rented and mostly disgusting. Her boyfriend is a tool who continues to use her, and her friends are inauthentic. She’s honestly just a sad sack with zero motivation to pull herself out of suffering. Her misery is raw. She’s a real character with deep self-loathing and pain that seeps out of the pages like blood from a wound. Jayne is emotionally estranged from her Korean parents and avoids her sister, June at all costs even though she also lives in New York City. She struggles to make sense of the disconnect she has with her culture, her body and the eating disorder she slowly reveals, her sibling bond or lack thereof, and the painful childhood she endured while living in Texas with immigrant parents. June reveals that she has uterine cancer, and Jayne has to come to terms with what this means for her family, her sister, and herself. June lives in a high-rise, has expensive clothes, an impressive city job, and is everything that Jayne is not. June’s cancer diagnosis not only reveals her fragility, but it also gives way to the cracks in her exacting veneer.
Although this is ultimately Jayne’s story, the sisters are each portrayed in all manner of real characterization: good, bad, and sometimes really ugly. They’re each hilarious, vulgar, self-involved, sensitive, impulsive, loving; they’re all of these things and more. I appreciate how the author, Mary H.K. Choi, doesn’t paint each sister in one single hue but rather shows each dappled in her own colors that vary by day and mood like real people are in ordinary life. This book is moody for all the right reasons, and I found it to be odd, repulsive, mesmerizing, and wonderful. It’s unique in a way that it’s not quite comparable to anything else I’ve read, and for that, I’m smitten.
The Killer's Shadow: The FBI's Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer by John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker
This was an interesting look at how criminal profiling got its start and ultimately helped track a white supremacist serial killer in the 1970s. Joseph Paul Franklin robbed banks, bombed targets, and killed people sniper-style. He targeted interracial couples, Black, Jews, and anyone he deemed the antithesis to his racist and Anti-Semitic views including Larry Flynt and President Jimmy Carter. Author, John Douglas was the profiler who hunted Franklin. He and Olshaker discuss Franklin’s background and how his hatred turned criminal. Douglas’ detailed analysis and detective work narrowed Franklin’s escape options until he was finally caught and eventually executed. It’s so amazing how profilers can make strikingly accurate predictions about serial killers by studying every detail of their lives and crimes. Douglas discusses other killers in comparison to Franklin and used all of his interviews to further hone the craft of criminal profiling. Franklin is not a name talked about much in the sensationalized crime media world. It was also disturbing to read how many Black lives were taken over the course of so many years before the FBI got really serious about stopping Franklin. It took suspicions about him targeting President Carter before Franklin became a larger priority. Douglas makes sure to point out how quickly words of hate can escalate into deeper criminal behavior and how this is playing out in today’s social media culture.
Travel All the Pages is inspired by my two loves - travel and reading, a combo I can't resist. Enjoy these little pairings.