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Singer and creator of the indie band Japanese Breakfast Michelle Zauner's CRYING IN H MART, about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother suddenly and too young, searching for identity in a hybrid culture, and finding a passion for her ancestry (and Korean cooking) as a way to heal and return to her roots in the wake of her loss, to Robin Desser at Knopf. Singer and creator of the indie band Japanese Breakfast Michelle Zauner's CRYING IN H MART, about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother suddenly and too young, searching for identity in a hybrid culture, and finding a passion for her ancestry (and Korean cooking) as a way to heal and return to her roots in the wake of her loss, to Robin Desser at Knopf.


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Singer and creator of the indie band Japanese Breakfast Michelle Zauner's CRYING IN H MART, about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother suddenly and too young, searching for identity in a hybrid culture, and finding a passion for her ancestry (and Korean cooking) as a way to heal and return to her roots in the wake of her loss, to Robin Desser at Knopf. Singer and creator of the indie band Japanese Breakfast Michelle Zauner's CRYING IN H MART, about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother suddenly and too young, searching for identity in a hybrid culture, and finding a passion for her ancestry (and Korean cooking) as a way to heal and return to her roots in the wake of her loss, to Robin Desser at Knopf.

30 review for Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A poignant and evocative memoir.

  2. 5 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    angel

    THE FULL MEMOIR'S COMING IT'S REAL IT'S HAPPENING bitch I'M crying THE FULL MEMOIR'S COMING IT'S REAL IT'S HAPPENING bitch I'M crying

  4. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    Heartbreaking and healing, this may have been the best memoir I have read since Know My Name. Michelle intricately weaves together the grief of losing a parent and the navigation of identity in a way that welcomes the reader in effortlessly. While I have extremely limited knowledge of Korean food, it was so easy to identify with the ways that specific foods can trigger memories and feelings of home and family. This memoir is moving, thoughtful, and extremely clever.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Esta Montano

    "When I go to H Mart, I'm not just on the hunt for cuttlefish and three bunches of scallions for buck; I'm searching for memories. I'm collecting the evidence that the Korean half of my identity didn't die when they did. H Mart is the bridge that guides me away from the memories that haunt me..." In short, Crying in H Mart is the memoir of a woman who has lost her mother to cancer. Michelle was born in Seoul to a Korean mother and American father with a traumatic past. During most of her earlier "When I go to H Mart, I'm not just on the hunt for cuttlefish and three bunches of scallions for buck; I'm searching for memories. I'm collecting the evidence that the Korean half of my identity didn't die when they did. H Mart is the bridge that guides me away from the memories that haunt me..." In short, Crying in H Mart is the memoir of a woman who has lost her mother to cancer. Michelle was born in Seoul to a Korean mother and American father with a traumatic past. During most of her earlier years, being half Korean was somewhat inconsequential to Michelle, and not particularly outstanding to her...serving more to separate her from her friends in Eugene, Oregon than anything else. Despite yearly trips to Korea, at which she struggled to understand Korean and enjoyed eating more than just about anything else, Michelle's Korean-ness was unremarkable. Once Michelle's mother becomes terminally ill, everything changes for her. She returns home from her carefree life in Philadelphia to help care for her bedridden mother and to bond with her as never before, and in so doing, becomes fascinated with learning to cook Korean food, at first to help to feed her mother, who can hardly tolerate any food at all, and later to "become" her mother. This pursuit turns more compelling after her mother passes away, leaving Michelle totally bereft and searching for meaning in the aftermath. It is then when Michelle intentionally and passionately seeks to connect with her Korean side, and she narrates her journey with intimate details of her thoughts and feelings. Her relationship with her father is a tenuous one, and as he moves further from her in real life, Michelle becomes closer to her mother in death than when she had been alive.. This memoir is heartbreaking and beautifully written. I feel that there were too many elaborate descriptions of food and recipes, that at times served to slow down the story for me, but in all it is a read that takes us into the author's mind as a biracial person who is negotiating her identity, and as a person who has suffered an irreparable loss. TW for those who have lost or are losing a person to cancer. #NetGalley #CryingInHMart

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I've sat here staring at the review box for ten minutes because I'm at a total loss when it comes to accurately describing the way this book made me feel. You may know Michelle Zauner from her dreamy albums under the moniker Japanese Breakfast. You may have read the titular essay in the New Yorker when it went viral--with good reason--in 2018. Maybe you don't know her yet. After reading her stunning debut, I promise you'll remember her. Crying in H Mart is a series of essays about Zauner's relat I've sat here staring at the review box for ten minutes because I'm at a total loss when it comes to accurately describing the way this book made me feel. You may know Michelle Zauner from her dreamy albums under the moniker Japanese Breakfast. You may have read the titular essay in the New Yorker when it went viral--with good reason--in 2018. Maybe you don't know her yet. After reading her stunning debut, I promise you'll remember her. Crying in H Mart is a series of essays about Zauner's relationship with her late mother. She takes the reader through her unwavering childhood adoration, teenage relationship strained between her mother's Korean heritage and blunt love and wanting to disappear via assimilation with her white Oregonian classmates, and her mother's devastating and unexpected illness. Throughout the text, Zauner lovingly details her family's shared bond over good food, illustrating how it can make or break a relationship, become your safe place, or change the course of your life. For Zauner, Korean food her mother lovingly prepared became a therapeutic coping mechanism in the wake of her untimely death. Zauner learned to cook (and eat) through her grief and celebrate her mother's life and their Korean heritage along the way. Zauner's writing is incredible. She instantly pulls the reader into her world, providing colorful detail without unnecessary exposition. She has mastered how to balance moments of anger, stubbornness, and jealousy with underlying fear, embarrassment, and love. She embraces the messiness of being human--of having a close relationship with a mother whose love is complicated. She is honest, and she writes about grief in a way unlike anything I've read before. I ached for her. I had to stop reading several times to try and pull it together after breaking down into a pool of tears too messy for a woman I didn't know--for women I don't know. Her writing is infuriatingly beautiful, and her ability to work through her grief and share these complex moments with the world admirable. I am so thankful to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this text, and I am even more indebted to Zauner for writing it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This is exactly the type of book that is I gravitate towards - family relationships, memoir, Asian-American culture, food. This book hit perfectly on all of those points for me. Growing up feeling torn between two cultures, Michelle details the ways in which her mother represented everything Korean in her life and the impact that has made on her. Her writing is witty, descriptive, and engaging. This story reminded me so much of my relationship with my own mother - the complexities of culture cla This is exactly the type of book that is I gravitate towards - family relationships, memoir, Asian-American culture, food. This book hit perfectly on all of those points for me. Growing up feeling torn between two cultures, Michelle details the ways in which her mother represented everything Korean in her life and the impact that has made on her. Her writing is witty, descriptive, and engaging. This story reminded me so much of my relationship with my own mother - the complexities of culture clashes, constant power struggles, and strange ways in which love is given and received. The writing was impeccable and very impressive for a debut author. This was such a great read and has become one of my all-time favorite memoirs! Thanks to Knopf and Netgalley for my Advanced Reader Copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: December 9, 2020 Publication date: April 20, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book fro Date reviewed/posted: December 9, 2020 Publication date: April 20, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. 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 humour and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of 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 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. This is a beautiful, engaging memoir that shook me to the core - its writing was poetic and searing. I was sad when the book ended as I enjoyed it so much - don't we all want to do things to honour those we have lost? Perfect for friends, family and book clubs alike. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it ☕☕☕☕☕ (Settle in with a cuppa and be prepared to be delighted!)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    I've sat here staring at the review box for ten minutes because I'm at a total loss when it comes to accurately describing the way this book made me feel. You may know Michelle Zauner from her dreamy albums under the moniker Japanese Breakfast. You may have read the titular essay in the New Yorker when it went viral--with good reason--in 2018. Maybe you don't know her yet. After reading her stunning debut, I promise you'll remember her. Crying in H Mart is a series of essays about Zauner's relat I've sat here staring at the review box for ten minutes because I'm at a total loss when it comes to accurately describing the way this book made me feel. You may know Michelle Zauner from her dreamy albums under the moniker Japanese Breakfast. You may have read the titular essay in the New Yorker when it went viral--with good reason--in 2018. Maybe you don't know her yet. After reading her stunning debut, I promise you'll remember her. Crying in H Mart is a series of essays about Zauner's relationship with her late mother. She takes the reader through her unwavering childhood adoration, teenage relationship strained between her mother's Korean heritage and blunt love and wanting to disappear via assimilation with her white Oregonian classmates, and her mother's devastating and unexpected illness. Throughout the text, Zauner lovingly details her family's shared bond over good food, illustrating how it can make or break a relationship, become your safe place, or change the course of your life. For Zauner, Korean food her mother lovingly prepared became a therapeutic coping mechanism in the wake of her untimely death. Zauner learned to cook (and eat) through her grief and celebrate her mother's life and their Korean heritage along the way. Zauner's writing is incredible. She instantly pulls the reader into her world, providing colorful detail without unnecessary exposition. She has mastered how to balance moments of anger, stubbornness, and jealousy with underlying fear, embarrassment, and love. She embraces the messiness of being human--of having a close relationship with a mother whose love is complicated. She is honest, and she writes about grief in a way unlike anything I've read before. I ached for her. I had to stop reading several times to try and pull it together after breaking down into a pool of tears too messy for a woman I didn't know--for women I don't know. Her writing is infuriatingly beautiful, and her ability to work through her grief and share these complex moments with the world admirable. I am so thankful to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this text, and I am even more indebted to Zauner for writing it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** The title of this book immediately caught my attention, but it wasn't till far into the book that I found out the author is the singer of Japanese Breakfast. But this book isn't about her life as a singer. Rather, it's about Zauner's Korean mother, their relationship, and ultimately, her mother's demise. She writes of shock, bargaining, grief, and all the myriad emotions that are part of the process of losing someone you love ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** The title of this book immediately caught my attention, but it wasn't till far into the book that I found out the author is the singer of Japanese Breakfast. But this book isn't about her life as a singer. Rather, it's about Zauner's Korean mother, their relationship, and ultimately, her mother's demise. She writes of shock, bargaining, grief, and all the myriad emotions that are part of the process of losing someone you love to an illness that ravages them. At the same time, Crying in H Mart is also about the experience of being mixed and about how she connected/connects to the culture of her mother's side of the family. After finishing this book, it's clear that Zauner is multitalented-- she can sing, write, and even make kim chi. I hope that she found some solace in recording her experience and sharing it with the world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    What a beautiful, heartbreaking, witty, and moving memoir. As a fellow Asian American who has never felt she really belonged in either country, Michelle's story was relatable in so many ways and I truly admire her tenacity. Reading it made me feel understood and seen and reminded me of our underlying shared humanity. And while our cultures may be different (I'm Chinese American), the use of food essentially as a love language was so poignant and felt so true to my family's values as well. I fini What a beautiful, heartbreaking, witty, and moving memoir. As a fellow Asian American who has never felt she really belonged in either country, Michelle's story was relatable in so many ways and I truly admire her tenacity. Reading it made me feel understood and seen and reminded me of our underlying shared humanity. And while our cultures may be different (I'm Chinese American), the use of food essentially as a love language was so poignant and felt so true to my family's values as well. I finished the book feeling inspired to spend more time with my parents, both learning about our family and roots in China and learning how to cook. An absolute favorite that I'll recommend to many of my Asian American friends. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review!

  12. 5 out of 5

    TEELOCK Mithilesh

    Raised by a Korean immigrant in the Pacific Northwest, Michelle Zauner never forgot what her mother ate. Despite a tumultuous adolescence arguing over clothes and ambition and career choice, it is no wonder, then, that their best moments were spent over heaping plates of Korean food: perfectly sour kimchi, Tupperware containers full of homemade banchan, piping hot soups. And the very best: the two of them, shoulder to shoulder in front of the fridge in Zauner’s grandmother’s tiny apartment in Se Raised by a Korean immigrant in the Pacific Northwest, Michelle Zauner never forgot what her mother ate. Despite a tumultuous adolescence arguing over clothes and ambition and career choice, it is no wonder, then, that their best moments were spent over heaping plates of Korean food: perfectly sour kimchi, Tupperware containers full of homemade banchan, piping hot soups. And the very best: the two of them, shoulder to shoulder in front of the fridge in Zauner’s grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, snacking on sweet braised black soybeans, crisp yellow sprouts, and warm lavender kong bap while they battled jet lag. Sharing food was its own kind of love. As one of the few Asian-American kids in her Oregon town, however, this part of Zauner’s identity—her Koreanness—was not something she had always readily embraced.

  13. 4 out of 5

    K

    This book was very heartfelt, and I only hesitate to recommend it to my friends because of how (although beautifully written, poetic, and downright lyrical in parts) emotionally heavy it gets. Topics of growing up mixed race, as an ethnic minority, not quite fitting in both the United States/back in the motherland, or as someone with different views on religion from the other fellow Koreans in their town are covered, but it all goes back to the author's relationship with their mother. The core o This book was very heartfelt, and I only hesitate to recommend it to my friends because of how (although beautifully written, poetic, and downright lyrical in parts) emotionally heavy it gets. Topics of growing up mixed race, as an ethnic minority, not quite fitting in both the United States/back in the motherland, or as someone with different views on religion from the other fellow Koreans in their town are covered, but it all goes back to the author's relationship with their mother. The core of this book is the author's relationship with their mother, and while it is far from perfect, it is, as the mother's favorite word goes, lovely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    Be prepared to be thoroughly engaged and hungry as you read this memoir. This is mother/daughter love at its core as well as about cultural identity and how food shapes this love and identity. The sacrifices that Zauner's mother makes for her daughter comes around when she gets sick and Michelle lovingly takes care of her. The grief is transcends the pages and this love letter to her mother will endure. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own. Be prepared to be thoroughly engaged and hungry as you read this memoir. This is mother/daughter love at its core as well as about cultural identity and how food shapes this love and identity. The sacrifices that Zauner's mother makes for her daughter comes around when she gets sick and Michelle lovingly takes care of her. The grief is transcends the pages and this love letter to her mother will endure. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniela Ayuso

    this. book. it’s not often that a book can make me feel really emotional, but michelle has such a way of placing you in a scene in her life and making every interaction seem so real! i cannot recommend this one enough and will be advocating for it at all times. warning: you will crave every korean dish while reading this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alyx

    I Cried in Bed Reading This. Amazingly touching memoir, so beautifully written. Michelle is a talent, I love Japanese Breakfast but she has a huge career as an artist in many other mediums. This was nothing short of beautiful.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrienne

    Richly detailed memoir about food, cultural identity, and a daughter’s fraught relationship with her mom that transforms during the mom’s cancer diagnosis. Beautifully told and heartfelt, this book is a memorable story. Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was an interesting memoir about growing up half Korean, mother-daughter relationships, and music. The music part was not as interesting to me as the cultural and familial parts. I was not familiar with Michelle as a musician until I read this memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Great memoir. Amazing descriptions of food, great family story. Very relatable.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rajvi

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brettne

  22. 4 out of 5

    a

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie Molpus

  24. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beebbbbaa

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yadira

  27. 5 out of 5

    Colin

  28. 5 out of 5

    andrew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily Crowe

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

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