I honestly don’t know what to say about this beyond the fact that it was raw, emotional, and just a lovely memoir. Michelle Zauner does a great job of showing us readers all the ways that her mother and food impacted her life. And she provides insights into her mother’s family, as well as her mother and father. This book honestly had me missing my mother the entire time I read it. And as I thought of her, I also realized how much food came into my mind when thinking of her, and also how certain food puts me back to being a little girl and watching her cook and bake. Growing up in a melting pot of a town, my family not only made African American dishes, but also incorporated a lot of Polish and Italian food and culture into our celebrations. I never thought of it as weird, but just something that was. I think I freaked out (in a good way) one of the attorney’s at my agency when I was talking about how much I missed perogies. He’s Polish and was like, what do you know about perogies? 🙂 Honestly, read this book, have by a box of tissues, and your favorite comfort drink and food.
“Crying in H Mart” follows Michelle Zauner as she tries to navigate the world again after the death of her mother. Michelle begins by telling us about H Mart and the Korean food she grew up eating with her mother. And from there the memoir follows Zauner backwards and forwards as she shares details on traveling back to visit her mother’s family in Korea, her growing pains (or as she calls it, being a nightmare), and then her leaving her parents home and going to college.
I also say that the best memoirs I have read are the ones where nothing is held back. And Zauner does not hold back. She tells stories that make her look bad, her mother look bad, her father look bad. You also get why she’s so desperate to return home to take care of her mother, to pay back a little bit of the love that she received that she threw back in her mom’s face growing up. And I felt for her, because as someone who had to watch my mother die slowly of cancer, I don’t wish that on my worst enemy. Reading this book felt like a flashback in time for me. I was 23 when I lost my mother, 20 when I lost my father, time feels so short, and sometimes very long. And it goes very slow when a family member is sick and you see them in pain.
I have to say that there’s a lovely rhythm to Zauner’s writing. I was reluctant to end this because it just soother me. And also made me very hungry. The flow of the book was great throughout.
The setting of this memoir moves from Oregon, Korea, Philadelphia, and eventually New York. I felt like I was in all of those places with Zauner.
The ending was definitely bittersweet. I followed up by reading about Zauner to find out what she has been up to and I had zero idea how successful she is as a musician. And I read a lovely piece about her estrangement from her father which made me sad for her.