From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
Crying in the H Mart by Michelle Zauner
What’s it about?
The old adage that "complicated relationships bring complicated grief" is demonstrated in this memoir. Michelle is only in her mid-twenties when she realizes that her mother is seriously ill. She is just beginning to come to terms with her immigrant mother and their complicated love when she finds herself having to say goodbye. Mother and daughter relationships are always complicated but this memoir shows us the added burden of being from distinctly different cultures.
What did it make me think about?
Mothers and daughters and food!
Should I read it?
If you are a fan of memoirs then pick this book up. I learned of Michelle Zauner through her music, but she is a talented writer as well. This is a clear, candid look at growing up biracial in America. Her mother's use of food to show love and care plays a central role in this slim book and I found these references especially illuminating. "I wonder how many people at H Mart miss their families . How many are thinking of them as they being their trays back from the different stalls. If they're eating to feel connected, to celebrate these people through food. Which ones weren't able to fly back home this year, or for the past ten years? Which ones are like me, missing the people who are gone from their lives forever?"
"It was difficult to write about someone I felt I knew so well. The words were unwieldy, enforced with pretensions. I wanted to uncover something special about her that only I could reveal. That she was so much more than a housewife, than a mother. That she was her own spectacular individual. Perhaps I was still sanctimoniously belittling the two roles she was ultimately most proud of, unable to accept that the same degree of fulfillment may await those who wish to nurture and love as those who seek to earn and create."
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7 1/2 stars