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This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a 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 pa This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a 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.


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This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a 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 pa This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a 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.

30 review for Crying in H Mart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    It feels weird to rate this book, because while reading it, I felt like the book was not intended to be for anybody but the author herself. She dives into all the food associated with her culture and mother, and it feels very personal and uniquely hers. All of her descriptions and experiences are unabashedly Asian and I think many Asian-Americans will relate in some way. I also appreciate that she talked about the “ugly” sides of grief: not just the sadness with mourning, but moments of when she It feels weird to rate this book, because while reading it, I felt like the book was not intended to be for anybody but the author herself. She dives into all the food associated with her culture and mother, and it feels very personal and uniquely hers. All of her descriptions and experiences are unabashedly Asian and I think many Asian-Americans will relate in some way. I also appreciate that she talked about the “ugly” sides of grief: not just the sadness with mourning, but moments of when she felt selfish and jealous over her mother’s other caretakers, arguments against her dad, etc. I’m not rating this 5 stars since it didn’t *amaze* me as much as other memoirs have. The writing style is more plainspoken and I personally prefer more flourish to the writing to make a memoir unique (i.e. Know My Name, In the Dream House). The structure also isn’t as cohesive here and I think would have fared better as a series of essays rather than trying to be a continuous book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carley

    Thank you Knopf for the copy of this book! (4.5/5) cried twice during this ill never be mean to my mom ever again i stg! This book is worth every bit of hype you've heard about it! the connection between grief and culture and food is something ive thought about everyday since finishing this book Thank you Knopf for the copy of this book! (4.5/5) cried twice during this ill never be mean to my mom ever again i stg! This book is worth every bit of hype you've heard about it! the connection between grief and culture and food is something ive thought about everyday since finishing this book

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Dacus

    I was worried I’d have some bias in favor of this book since Michelle is a pal, but I can confidently say that, by any metric, it’s incredible. Lots of tears, but some laughs too. It’s a bare and brutal memoir, full of truth and tenderness. Really a gift.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    Crying in H Mart is my favorite book of all time. The quiet devastation, the raw emotion, the sheer wisdom inside its pages. It brought tears to my eyes practically every other page. I've never gone through such an emotional journey triggered by a book before. The sense of impending doom and the heavy sadness of each moment, the conflicting emotions and frank writing style, the haunting dialogue and the stunning descriptions of food. They all came together to form the perfect book. This book is a Crying in H Mart is my favorite book of all time. The quiet devastation, the raw emotion, the sheer wisdom inside its pages. It brought tears to my eyes practically every other page. I've never gone through such an emotional journey triggered by a book before. The sense of impending doom and the heavy sadness of each moment, the conflicting emotions and frank writing style, the haunting dialogue and the stunning descriptions of food. They all came together to form the perfect book. This book is about the deep connection of food and the love between a mother and her child, even through hardship and pain and hurt feelings. I was on the verge of crying the entire time. I've never been more emotionally wrecked. I remember these things clearly because that was how my mother loved you, not through white lies and constant verbal affirmation, but in subtle observations of what brought you joy, pocketed away to make you feel comforted and cared for without even realizing it. Michelle had a troubled relationship with her mother. They were constantly at odds, and as she grew into a rebellious teenager, the gap between them only widened. She only began to realize how big of a role her mother had in her life when she was diagnosed with cancer. She could no longer take care of Michelle; Michelle had to take care of her. As the roles steadily reversed, Michelle found comfort in cooking traditional Korean food. It reminded her of her mother, their trips to Seoul, and the bond they shared. But this book isn't just about a mother-daughter relationship. It isn't just about food. It's also an exploration of what it means to be multiracial in a world that wants to sort people into boxes. Korean or American? White or Asian? I had spent my adolescence trying to blend in with my peers in suburban America, and had come of age feeling like my belonging was something to prove. Something that was always in the hands of other people to be given and never my own to take, to decide which side I was on, whom I was allowed to align with. I could never be of both worlds, only half in and half out, waiting to be ejected at will by someone with greater claim than me. Someone whole. Crying in H Mart is the quiet, haunting, beautiful story of what and who we take for granted, and the little moments we never appreciate until they're gone. It left me so hollow in an exquisitely painful way. It made me appreciate my culture and my mother so much more. Especially since I felt closely connected to Michelle. I related to her in many ways. I felt like I was Michelle, which just made me cry even harder. The little nuggets of wisdom and humor brought this book to life. When Crying in H Mart arrived at my doorstep, my first remark to my dad was that it smelled like ink and tears—the bitter scent of new ink, the almost-saltiness of fresh paper. We laughed it off, but while I was reading, I kept thinking about it. Ink and tears. Or rather, tears and ink. Heartbreak, depression, devastation. And then, out of an event so painful—creation. Zauner put pen to paper, and a masterpiece was written. She fled to music when the noise of her own spiraling thoughts became too much, and she found an escape that turned into a lifelong passion. This book shattered me and then pieced me back together. I'm a different person, and I'm so grateful to the wonderful, talented Michelle Zauner for writing this absolutely perfect memoir. In case you didn't know, Michelle is the lead singer of one of my favorite indie bands, Japanese Breakfast. My favorite of their albums is Soft Sounds From Another Planet, and my favorite two songs on that album are Boyish and The Body is a Blade. You should definitely check her out. Her music is beautiful. EDIT: Actually, my favorite is Jubilee, which is one of the greatest albums of all time. It was released on June 4, 2021, and it's a masterpiece. 5 stars ___ This is my new favorite book of all time. It's absolutely devastating. I would give anything to read this again for the first time. Review to come

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mischenko

    This touching memoir written by Michelle Zauner is about growing up as a Korean-American in the United States, her sometimes complicated relationship with her parents, and her experience of losing her mom to advanced pancreatic cancer. After having a tumultuous relationship with her mother growing up, she wants to cure her mother and to heal their relationship. As she navigates through this difficult time feeling pain and grief, she uses Korean foods she holds dear to commemorate her mother by l This touching memoir written by Michelle Zauner is about growing up as a Korean-American in the United States, her sometimes complicated relationship with her parents, and her experience of losing her mom to advanced pancreatic cancer. After having a tumultuous relationship with her mother growing up, she wants to cure her mother and to heal their relationship. As she navigates through this difficult time feeling pain and grief, she uses Korean foods she holds dear to commemorate her mother by learning how to cook them, while reflecting on memories of her childhood. Food was how my mother expressed her love. No matter how critical or cruel she could seem—constantly pushing me to meet her intractable expectations—I could always feel her affection radiating from the lunches she packed and the meals she prepared for me just the way I liked them. I first heard about this book on NPR and knew it was a memoir I couldn’t pass up. Cancer is something that has plagued my own family, and I was interested in the cultural aspects of the book as well. I’d never heard of Michelle Zauner or her music before, so I was intrigued. Crying in H Mart turned out to be a beautiful, well-written and thought-provoking memoir. This wasn’t a memoir that had me bawling my eyes out from beginning to end, but it hit me in waves, forcing me to put the book down and return to it. It’s emotional, and it transfixed me—sending me into reflections of past relationships with members of my own family—reminding me of how we should never take family for granted. No one is guaranteed any specific amount of time here, and we have to live each day like it’s our last together. The boy’s mom placed pieces of beef from her spoon onto his. He is quiet and looks tired and doesn’t talk to her much. I want to tell him how much I miss my mother. How he should be kind to his mom, remember that life is fragile and she could be gone at any moment. It was easy to relate to Michelle’s relationship with particular Korean foods and the cooking she grew up with. The connection to her Korean heritage was through her mom. I’m one of the last people in my family to prepare specific recipes from my Syrian side—those that I grew up eating—so it’s something I often share with my own children. I’ve always hoped that our family recipes would remain preserved and carried into future generations. It was a neat experience learning about Korean dishes I’ve never heard of—some that include familiar ingredients from Syrian recipes too, including pine nuts. Kimchi is a fermented food I’ve eaten for years, and now I’m inspired to make my own. I look forward to trying different Korean foods some day. Needless to say, I connected with this book on multiple levels. People who’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, or those experiencing grief now will likely connect with this book. The author does share the entire, detailed experience of her mother’s diagnosis and illness and what it was like for her during these times as her caretaker. She’s woven it all with memories of her past, which makes it incredibly emotional. There were some laugh-out-loud moments for me as well. I’d recommend this book because I’m sure everyone can take something from it. Overall, Crying in H Mart is a moving memoir about the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, grieving, forgiveness, and the power of food and how it connects us. 5***** You can also see this review @www.readrantrockandroll.com

  6. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    Losing a mother is a watershed event, and life is never the same again I'm shocked that the descriptions and grief of losing her mother didn't bring back painful memories of losing my own but strangely it didn't. Maybe because our experiences were very different in other ways, I could personally remove myself from the narrative, but still feel it’s poignancy. The author is raw, honest, and vulnerable as she talks about the complex and often difficult relationship she had with her mother. She was Losing a mother is a watershed event, and life is never the same again I'm shocked that the descriptions and grief of losing her mother didn't bring back painful memories of losing my own but strangely it didn't. Maybe because our experiences were very different in other ways, I could personally remove myself from the narrative, but still feel it’s poignancy. The author is raw, honest, and vulnerable as she talks about the complex and often difficult relationship she had with her mother. She was my champion, she was my archive. She had taken the utmost care to preserve the evidence of my existence and growth, capturing me in images, saving all my documents and possessions. She had all knowledge of my being memorized.” The author doesn’t just highlight her loss and grief, she highlights her experience of growing up Korean American. “I had spent my adolescence trying to blend in with my peers in suburban America…. I could never be of both worlds, only half in and half out, waiting to be ejected at will by someone with greater claim than me. She also details her journey of connecting with her mother through her Korean roots and through food. The descriptions of her trips to Korea, and of the food she both ate and cooked were amazing and made my stomach rumble. I've never visited H Mart, but now I want to. Food was an unspoken language between us, had come to symbolize our return to each other, our bonding, our common ground.” I'm not familiar with the author's music (Japanese Breakfast) but the memoir was excellent, and I highly recommend. Although I was given an ARC via EW I downloaded the audiobook from my library because I think memoirs shine when hearing the author speak her own words, and this is one of the best. Beautiful, poignant, and heartbreaking in all of the best ways, there’s something here for everyone. * I received a digital copy of the book via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    I loved this book. Review to follow.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook.....debut, read by the author: Michelle Zauner 7 hours and 23 minutes As Dani Shapiro said....(an author I have a high opinion of), “All Mothers in daughters will recognize themselves and each other—in these pages”! AGREE! Amen! “Crying in H Mark”....is perfectly seasoned with a spoonful of Korean scrupulosity, ......kimchi, and other Korean cuisine favorites..... along with family (mother and daughter) staunchness, restraint, coolness, sturdiness, adherence, obedience, rebellion, attac Audiobook.....debut, read by the author: Michelle Zauner 7 hours and 23 minutes As Dani Shapiro said....(an author I have a high opinion of), “All Mothers in daughters will recognize themselves and each other—in these pages”! AGREE! Amen! “Crying in H Mark”....is perfectly seasoned with a spoonful of Korean scrupulosity, ......kimchi, and other Korean cuisine favorites..... along with family (mother and daughter) staunchness, restraint, coolness, sturdiness, adherence, obedience, rebellion, attachment, restraint, respect.... with added flavors of Korean family values, traditional defines, dedication, hierarchy, lifestyle and cultural experiences, .....[ Korean Bath Houses are a favorite self-care pleasure].... I’ve been visiting our local Korean Spa for about thirty years myself. (love it). And..... Going deeper.... This is a heartbreaking memoir about a mother dying too young - a daughter that was not ready for her to die.... a daughter that wished to make up for every wrongdoing she ever did — desperately wishing to take it all back —make it up to her mom. Michelle wanted be the daughter her mother wanted— before it was too late—-(wear the ugly skirt, etc.).... She eagerly wanted to help her mother with everything and anything she could. I ached/and cried for how much grief Michelle felt. Michelle was just starting to appreciate her mother’s wisdom, teachings, lessons, ...after years of struggling with their relationship. But now terminal cancer was taking her away. Heavy painful loss. Michelle’s mother didn’t care much for sweets ... but occasionally she enjoyed strawberry Häagen-Dazs ice cream.... I was reminded of when Paul’s great grandmother died — I loved her with all my heart too —she also loved strawberry Häagen-Dazs.... We made sure she had all she wanted - (which wasn’t much- no appetite left)....before she died. Food & love was the secret principle ingredient, when faced with the dealings of loss & grief. There is plenty of humor too...... and richness, (tons of sensory richness)...... Beautiful beautiful beautiful memoir..... We fall in love with Michelle Zauner......( it’s impossible not too) Michelle Zauner, the indie rockstar (new to me)....was pure pleasure to digest. Loved it!!! A STAND OUT MEMOIR!

  9. 4 out of 5

    niri

    this book is so good also it sent me into a depressive spiral

  10. 5 out of 5

    monica kim

    dnf @ 75pgs - i have to step away from this read as i’m finding it incredibly triggering. that’s nothing against the book itself - it’s a stunning memoir that i highly recommend from what i read. i just thought i was in a place mentally where i could read this, but i am not.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Hi all! The March Reading Vlog is up!! The Written Review Michelle Zauner - lead of the indie band called Japanese Breakfast - has always had a complicated relationship with her mother. When Michelle was younger, her mother was her best friend and when she grew older, the two of them butted heads at every point. And when Michelle was in her twenties, she began to see her mother as someone outside of her bubble and the two of them worked to make amends...and then, suddenly and heartbreakingly Hi all! The March Reading Vlog is up!! The Written Review Michelle Zauner - lead of the indie band called Japanese Breakfast - has always had a complicated relationship with her mother. When Michelle was younger, her mother was her best friend and when she grew older, the two of them butted heads at every point. And when Michelle was in her twenties, she began to see her mother as someone outside of her bubble and the two of them worked to make amends...and then, suddenly and heartbreakingly, her mother was gone. Cancer. And Michelle was left crying in H Mart with the realization that they have lost so much time together and there's absolutely no way to get that back. I had no idea what I was getting into... and now I'm just all out sobbing at the thought of losing my mother. Best book I've read in a long time. The way Michelle described her mother felt just so raw and real - the all-consuming love of childhood, the don't-touch-me of teenagehood and the we-are-friends of young adult hood. I just...I don't really have anything else to say other than this book was amazing and I cannot get enough of it. Truly an incredible read. huge thank you to Knopf Publishing Group for sending this my way

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    I didn't know who Michelle Zauner is when I borrowed this audiobook. Michelle is a music artist and apparently a great author as well. What caught my attention to this book is H Mart, a Korean grocery store. I can spend hours there going through every aisle and marvel at varieties of ramen, soy sauce or pepper paste. How many types of "kimchi" can there be? I don't know how to cook Korean food, but sure love to eat it. 🤭 Yes, they have a wonderful food court.💕 The author is Korean American and sh I didn't know who Michelle Zauner is when I borrowed this audiobook. Michelle is a music artist and apparently a great author as well. What caught my attention to this book is H Mart, a Korean grocery store. I can spend hours there going through every aisle and marvel at varieties of ramen, soy sauce or pepper paste. How many types of "kimchi" can there be? I don't know how to cook Korean food, but sure love to eat it. 🤭 Yes, they have a wonderful food court.💕 The author is Korean American and she shares her story growing up as a mixed race girl trying to fit in. We learn about her Korean heritage and culture she experienced with her mother through food and visits to South Korea. This is a tribute for Michelle's mother who passed away from cancer. Michelle was her mother's caretaker. Here, she tries to reconnect with the memories of her mother through food. A heartfelt memoir.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Crying in H Mart is a moving, thought-provoking look at grief and the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. “Sometimes my grief feels as though I’ve been left alone in a room with no doors. Every time I remember that my mother is dead, it feels like I’m colliding with a wall that won’t give. There’s no escape, just a hard surface that I keep ramming into over and over, a reminder of the immutable reality that I will never see her again.“ Michelle Zauner, a writer and indie musi Crying in H Mart is a moving, thought-provoking look at grief and the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. “Sometimes my grief feels as though I’ve been left alone in a room with no doors. Every time I remember that my mother is dead, it feels like I’m colliding with a wall that won’t give. There’s no escape, just a hard surface that I keep ramming into over and over, a reminder of the immutable reality that I will never see her again.“ Michelle Zauner, a writer and indie musician known as Japanese Breakfast, lost her mother to cancer in 2014, when Michelle was 25 and her mother was 56. Although they had had a difficult relationship through Michelle’s troubled adolescence and early adulthood, there was no question that she was going to fly home to Oregon to nurse her mother through her final days. In this beautifully poignant memoir, Zauner recounts her relationship with her mother and its peaks and valleys. Her mother was Korean and her father is American, so Zauner struggled with identity and being caught between two worlds. At times she embraced and at other times she ran from her Korean heritage and the pressures of her overbearing mother. But their relationship was best celebrated through food, such a vital part of so many cultures. Zauner talks about eating with such gusto, the memories of her mother making different dishes to mark different occasions or for special situations. She also recounts cooking for her mother and her family in the last months of her life. Losing a parent is never easy; she lost her mother just five months after my dad died suddenly. While every person’s grief is unique and they deal in different ways, this book definitely hit me in the feels and made me think of my relationship with my dad, which had its own beautiful moments and challenges. Don’t read Crying in H Mart on an empty stomach, especially if you’re a fan of Korean food! (My stomach was HOWLING.) BookSparks, Knopf Books, and Michelle Zauner sent me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review as part of #SRC2021. Thanks for making it available! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Michelle Zauner writes so beautifully about her family and food and how these things are so intimately connected and tied to our identity. She especially focuses on her relationship with her mother via the Korean food she grew up eating and shopping for at H Mart. Sadly, her mother passed away from cancer, and Zauner chronicles the difficult journey of a daughter coping with the process of losing her mother. So if you have lost or come close to losing a loved one, especially a parent, this book, Michelle Zauner writes so beautifully about her family and food and how these things are so intimately connected and tied to our identity. She especially focuses on her relationship with her mother via the Korean food she grew up eating and shopping for at H Mart. Sadly, her mother passed away from cancer, and Zauner chronicles the difficult journey of a daughter coping with the process of losing her mother. So if you have lost or come close to losing a loved one, especially a parent, this book, at times, may be hard to read. But the reward is well worth it. I was moved by Zauner's narration (the audiobook is great), and though my experiences are far from hers, there was still a relatability embedded in the narrative. She writes so tenderly and with such affection for her mother and Korean culture, yet at the same time is grappling with what it means to be half-white and in a very real way, having grown up in the US, at a slight remove from her Korean side. I see why so many people are raving about this book. It's a must-read for memoir fans and readers who like food-based writing. Elegiac, touching and nostalgic, Crying in H Mart will rip out your heart and feed it right back to you with beautiful prose, sepia-tinted memories, and a balance of sadness and optimism we all inevitably face when coping with loss.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Luce

    / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “The time I was born, my unborn cravings, the first book I read. The formation of every characteristic. Every ailment and little victory. She observed me with unparalleled interest, inexhaustible devotion. Now that she was gone, there was no one left to ask about these things. The knowledge left unrecorded died with her. What remained were documents and my memories, and now it was up to me to make sense of myself, aided by the signs she left behind. How c / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “The time I was born, my unborn cravings, the first book I read. The formation of every characteristic. Every ailment and little victory. She observed me with unparalleled interest, inexhaustible devotion. Now that she was gone, there was no one left to ask about these things. The knowledge left unrecorded died with her. What remained were documents and my memories, and now it was up to me to make sense of myself, aided by the signs she left behind. How cynical and bittersweet for a child to retrace the image of their mother. For a subject to turn back to document their archivist.” Richly observed and heartbreakingly candid Crying in H Mart provides a powerful account of a complicated mother-daughter relationship. In her memoir musician Michelle Zauner writes with painful clarity of when at age 25 her mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Zauner’s recollection of her mother’s terminal illness, her rapidly deteriorating health, and eventual death is heart-wrenching. Zauner conveys with devastating precision the grief, confusion, and hurt she experienced in the wake of her mother’s diagnosis. Interspersed throughout her memories of her mother’s illness are glimpses into her childhood and teenage years. In looking back to her youth Zauner examines her strained relationship with her mother, her evolving relationship to her Korean American identity, and the crucial role that food, in particular Korean food, played in her upbringing and adulthood. Food becomes a tether to her mother and her Korean heritage (speaking of which, there is this wonderful video starring Zauner & Maangchi ). Zauner’s immersive storytelling, which is brimming with piercing insights into love, loss, and language, is utterly captivating. Despite the harrowing subject matter, I found myself unwilling to interrupt my reading. In navigating her grief and her shifting perception of her mother Zauner presents her readers with some truly beautiful reflections on motherhood and daughterhood. I admire Zauner for being able to write with such lucidity about her grief and her mother’s illness. Zauner’s introspections also are worthy of praise as she is unflinching in her critiquing of her past-self. Zauner's examination of her often uneasy relationship with her mother underscores each episodic chapter within her memoir. In her recollection of her mother Zauner stresses how easy it is to mistake less 'conventional' demonstrations of love and affection as 'lesser'. Reading Crying in H Mart made my heart ache. Frank yet lyrical this is the kind of memoir that will leave a mark on its readers. ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A poignant and evocative memoir.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    Crying in H Mart is Michelle Zauner’s memoir — An exploration of grief, family, and identity as a Korean American. Zauner lost her mom to cancer in 2014 and reflects back on her life, including childhood as the sole Asian student at her school in Oregon, travels to Korea to visit family, and trying to make it as a musician. The difference in family dynamics is something that has always interested me and people show their love and care in various ways — Michelle’s mom often did so through tough l Crying in H Mart is Michelle Zauner’s memoir — An exploration of grief, family, and identity as a Korean American. Zauner lost her mom to cancer in 2014 and reflects back on her life, including childhood as the sole Asian student at her school in Oregon, travels to Korea to visit family, and trying to make it as a musician. The difference in family dynamics is something that has always interested me and people show their love and care in various ways — Michelle’s mom often did so through tough love. Their relationship wasn’t perfect by any means but Michelle grew to appreciate the lessons and gifts her mom ultimately shared with her. Prior to the release of this book, I was not familiar with Zauner, who is an indie rock musician (Japanese Breakfast). After hearing so much acclaim about this book, I decided to give a shot — Memoirs are obviously deeply personal, and I was a little worried initially as it took me awhile to connect, but Crying in H Mart ended up being a powerful, honest read, worth the praise.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    This is not your usual grief memoir and it's better for it. It considers not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of the author's connection through her mother to her Korean roots. This absolutely goes on the list of books you should not read while you're hungry. From the very first chapter, which is indeed a kind of grieving walk through H Mart, taking in all different types of foods, there is so much great food writing. Zauner is a patient and faithful describer of food, laying out for yo This is not your usual grief memoir and it's better for it. It considers not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of the author's connection through her mother to her Korean roots. This absolutely goes on the list of books you should not read while you're hungry. From the very first chapter, which is indeed a kind of grieving walk through H Mart, taking in all different types of foods, there is so much great food writing. Zauner is a patient and faithful describer of food, laying out for you each dish, what is in it, and what types of occasions it's associated with. It is no surprise when she begins to work through her grief through cooking. The specificity of this memoir, like most good memoirs, is what really makes it sing. Zauner was brought up by her Korean mother and American father, mostly in Eugene, Oregon. She admits that she was a difficult and rebellious teenager, and that by the time of her mother's cancer diagnosis in Zauner's mid-20's, they have just started to figure out how to have a less tumultuous relationship. With her mother's potential death looming, Zauner never really gets to reckon with the ways her mother's parenting was difficult, but she can try to rectify the ways she made things harder by being a perfect daughter to nurse her mother back to health. The bulk of the book takes place during her mother's illness, which is described in detail, so keep in mind if that's a difficult topic for you. I did the audiobook, which Zauner reads. Like many memoirists who read their own work, it isn't as animated a read as from a professional actor, but I like hearing people read their own writing so I didn't mind it. I also like hearing books that contain a lot of a language or accent I don't recognize, because it brings it to life in a way I never can just looking at it on the page. If you are looking for another book in the very small subgenre of death and food memoirs, I'd recommend FROM SCRATCH by Tembi Locke.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    3.5 stars It’s so true that a sight, a song, or even a food will bring you back to a time where your memory is ever so clear and a person will pop up as you relive the moment. The author reminisces time spent with her mother with thoughts of food and a walk through an ethnic market brings a flood of remembrances that force her to evaluate her mostly tenuous relationship with her Korean mother. Certainly the author’s teenage years were filled with her anxiety and longing to be accepted. Her dual her 3.5 stars It’s so true that a sight, a song, or even a food will bring you back to a time where your memory is ever so clear and a person will pop up as you relive the moment. The author reminisces time spent with her mother with thoughts of food and a walk through an ethnic market brings a flood of remembrances that force her to evaluate her mostly tenuous relationship with her Korean mother. Certainly the author’s teenage years were filled with her anxiety and longing to be accepted. Her dual heritage made her feel often embarrassed never fitting in, friendless. While she longed for her American part present because of her father, she could never quite get there. Memoirs are difficult for me to read as I often get slightly judgmental into the person laying it all out there. I was no different in this case, and will honestly say, I didn’t like Michelle. Although she does get a huge wake up call when her mom becomes severely ill, I kept on thinking would her attitude, her dislike, her antipathy of her mother have changed if illness had not presented its ugly face? I am looking at this memoir as a possible catharsis for Michelle, and hope for those of us who read the book, this will be a call for us to always remember that life is fleeting and things you have done might never be able to be forgiven in your own mind.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    Profound memoir about the relationship between a mother and a daughter, identity and place, coming into a vocation, food and memory, and much more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leesa

    A Perfect Book. Immersive and overflowing w v Real, v Complicated Emotions and so funny and so sad in the way it has to be/the way life actually is. The way relationships actually are. The way families actually are. Beautifully and incandescently written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Yup, crying on my couch, in my bathtub, in bed over this gorgeously told memoir of the ties between mothers and daughters, immigrants and the food of our homelands, love and loss. A moving, honest, and unflinching tribute.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ✨ A ✨

    I'm guessing this will make me cry. Got my tissues ready 👍🏼 I'm guessing this will make me cry. Got my tissues ready 👍🏼

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    It pains me to not really like this memoir. I had such high expectations and I feel really guilty for not liking the story Michelle Zauner told. There were definitely beautiful moments, but overall I did not enjoy the writing or the way the story was told. I know I am definitely in the minority and that a lot of people like this book, so I would say to read it if you are intrigued by it. But, it did not work for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    A memoir of grief, food, and family. Korean-American Michelle Zauner was born in Seoul but grew up in Eugene, Oregon. She was struggling to make her indie-music dreams come true when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. The next year was an exhausting struggle against the illness and the medical system, which consumed their whole family. Michelle relates many memories that center on food, ones from her childhood trips to Korea, ones from trying to nourish her dying mother, and ones from after h A memoir of grief, food, and family. Korean-American Michelle Zauner was born in Seoul but grew up in Eugene, Oregon. She was struggling to make her indie-music dreams come true when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. The next year was an exhausting struggle against the illness and the medical system, which consumed their whole family. Michelle relates many memories that center on food, ones from her childhood trips to Korea, ones from trying to nourish her dying mother, and ones from after her mother's passing as she tries to recreate the tastes from her memories. Well written and emotional.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kat Cho

    I don't think I've ever read a book that I've personally, emotionally connected with as much as this one. 😭😭😭 I don't think I've ever read a book that I've personally, emotionally connected with as much as this one. 😭😭😭

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    This is an honest and bittersweet memoir by a young Korea-American woman who has lost her Korean mother to cancer. The author recounts her childhood fixation with her mother, her teenage rebelliousness, and her guilt and grief as she comes home to nurse her mother through stage IV cancer. I recently lost my mother and could relate very well with the mother-daughter struggles. I was a difficult teenager, too, and often felt as I cared for my mother in her later years that I was willingly and lovi This is an honest and bittersweet memoir by a young Korea-American woman who has lost her Korean mother to cancer. The author recounts her childhood fixation with her mother, her teenage rebelliousness, and her guilt and grief as she comes home to nurse her mother through stage IV cancer. I recently lost my mother and could relate very well with the mother-daughter struggles. I was a difficult teenager, too, and often felt as I cared for my mother in her later years that I was willingly and lovingly paying penance for all the crap I put her through in my youth. Some of Zauner’s candid self-reflections and observations hit very close to home. This book has some SERIOUS food porn - Zauner’s sumptuous descriptions of Korean food had my mouth watering more than once. One of the ways Zauner’s mother showed her love to her daughter was in the loving preparation of her favorite foods. I enjoyed this very much. This story is both unique and universal - the mother/daughter bond, the search for identity, love and grief, guilt and acceptance. Very well done, highly recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Touching and thoughtful. So many great descriptions of food!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)

    QUICK TAKE: warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach, because there is a LOT of talk about food in this emotional and well-written memoir about a Korean-American woman who puts her life on pause to come home and care for her ailing mother. Family is complicated, and I feel like while my life experiences are nothing like the author's, I was still able to easily relate to her struggles and family drama, and I ultimately really loved so much about this book. Now if you'll excuse me, I nee QUICK TAKE: warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach, because there is a LOT of talk about food in this emotional and well-written memoir about a Korean-American woman who puts her life on pause to come home and care for her ailing mother. Family is complicated, and I feel like while my life experiences are nothing like the author's, I was still able to easily relate to her struggles and family drama, and I ultimately really loved so much about this book. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find my nearest H Mart.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    Is it against the laws of Goodreads to give a book 10 stars out of 5? I don't care, this one gets all my stars. I am unable to accurately express how utterly moved I was by this book, and what it meant to me as the child of an Asian mother to feel the resonance Michelle's words breathing life into so many of my own sleeping memories for perhaps the first time since they were created. "It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people: those who had felt pain, and those who ha Is it against the laws of Goodreads to give a book 10 stars out of 5? I don't care, this one gets all my stars. I am unable to accurately express how utterly moved I was by this book, and what it meant to me as the child of an Asian mother to feel the resonance Michelle's words breathing life into so many of my own sleeping memories for perhaps the first time since they were created. "It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people: those who had felt pain, and those who had yet to." To listen to Michelle's voice describe such unspeakable topics, such earth shattering emotions, tore me to shreds. And it wasn't just the tragedy, the loss, and the trauma of her mother's death that brought me to my knees. It was the delicate and fearsome nature of love between an Asian mother and her child that no one but those who've experienced it can fathom. It was the meticulous descriptions of the language of food that bridges an almost insurmountable gap between an immigrant parent and their first generation American child, and the way even the simplest dish or ingredient can conjure a landslide of memories. It was the bitter arguments and resentment contrasted with a desperate need for validation and acceptance that I know so well. It was the tender yet imbalanced sort of love between a white father and her Asian mother, the groundlessness of being caught between two cultures but never fully rooted in one or the other, the jealousy toward those do not stumble over their own mother tongues. It was how a light was shone on the gracelessness with which we are forced to confront our deepest fears, insecurities, and failures. It was the things that need no translation because they transcend language, time, space, and culture. It was how I was reminded of how much I love my own mother, in my own broken way, and how ferociously my mother loves me. Michelle Zauner is a powerful, unrelenting, incredible human. This book left my chest wide open. It was therapeutic; a deep release of emotions to read. I cried many times while listening to this. The beauty and rawness of her narrative ability borders lyrical but never strays from being sincere and human. I highly recommend the audiobook, especially for the full appreciation of the wealth of Korean words and phrases expressed in this book. But actually, no matter how you consume it, just read this book! I am so touched by its existence.

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