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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart
by Michelle Zauner

Thanks so much to PRHAudio for this gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: April 20, 2021
7 hrs 23 min
Genres: Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction

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.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band--and meeting the man who would become her husband--her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner's voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

My Review:

Oh my Korean American heart! 💝 Sometimes a book just hits you right in the tear ducts and while my eyes might not have leaked reading this, my heart sure did. SO SO many things resonated with me during this listen as I too also am Korean American with a Korean mother and American father.  I laughed at some parts because it was like listening to someone tell me about my childhood.  I cried on the inside at some parts because I couldn't imagine going through this with my own mother.  OMG, NOW why do my tears want to well up while writing this?! 😢

Some might wonder why there is an ABUNDANCE of food detail within these pages.  Food is such a bonding thing in the Korean culture.  No matter how skinny or fat my mom called me, she always had a plate full of food for me, always asked if I wanted more, always made a note out loud to how much I ate (Oh, Chandra ate it all! Oh, you didn't eat much today. OH, you want more - wah, you eat a lot!).  She's also loud, abrasive, constantly critiques and can be quite scary... but I also know no one will love me as much and as hard as she does.  Every instance Michelle talks about food and describes the process/taste, it takes me back.  Give me my scissors, chopsticks and all the ingredients please!

Honestly, I could go on and on and on and on about this book.  I am utterly grateful my mom is still alive and we have a great relationship.  I am eternally appreciative of my culture - especially now that I'm older.  My heart goes out to Michelle and her family.  If ever a memoir was going to pat me on the ass, it's this one (Koreans do this a lot btw... pat pat... my mom did this to an ex once and he thought she was hitting on him 😆).  In this photo are the cards Michelle speaks about.  It's so cathartic sometimes to just play solitaire with these and hear the slapping of the cards. #IYKYK

All the stars - Michelle, can we be friends please? 


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