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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, 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.


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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, 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.

30 review for Crying in H Mart

  1. 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. 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

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Hi all! The March Reading Vlog is up!! The Written Review 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 Full review to come huge thank you to Knopf Publishing Group for sending this my way Hi all! The March Reading Vlog is up!! The Written Review 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 Full review to come huge thank you to Knopf Publishing Group for sending this my way

  3. 5 out of 5

    AnnaLuce

    / / / 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 cy / / / 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    niri

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

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A poignant and evocative memoir.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    So beautiful, so sad. Michelle captures the grief of losing a parent to terminal illness in a way I have hardly ever been able to articulate. Michelle, if you ever read your goodreads reviews, thank you 😭

  7. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    mesal

    Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Japanese Breakfast's album Psychopomp explored Michelle Zauner's grief over her mother's death through music. Crying in H Mart made that exploration through food. At once lively and poignant, Zauner's memoir proves that her talents extend far beyond singing and songwriting. Her narrative style is conversational: she seems to have a discussion with the reader about her experi Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Japanese Breakfast's album Psychopomp explored Michelle Zauner's grief over her mother's death through music. Crying in H Mart made that exploration through food. At once lively and poignant, Zauner's memoir proves that her talents extend far beyond singing and songwriting. Her narrative style is conversational: she seems to have a discussion with the reader about her experiences, allowing them to feel her emotions through her words. The language used is eloquent, seemingly effortless, and conveys each fact of Zauner's life clearly. If the cover and blurb weren't indications enough, food makes for a very important theme in this memoir, tying every single memory together with a discernible thread. When food is abundant, eaten with relish, there is happiness in the household, a ceasefire between mother and daughter. When someone refuses to eat (or is unable to do so), it is obvious that the order of Michelle's world has been upturned and that something is very, very wrong. The dishes themselves are described with great care: their names and backgrounds, how they're made, how they're eaten. You can almost taste them alongside the author as you read along. Zauner chooses to present her life in fragments. One moment, you're in the middle of reading about her mother's illness; in the next, you're thrown into a flashback of her mother's siblings when young, through a photograph that is one of Zauner's few ties to her mother's past. These changes in scene are often sudden and unexpected, but when you get used to them – when you start to expect them – they stop being so surprising. A memoir isn't exactly the easiest thing to review: this isn't a story with characters and plot, this is a written representation of a part of someone's life as they saw it. That being said, I can speak for its writing, and that writing is very, very good. Happy publication day! Find my full-length review on my blog here.

  9. 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    All the feels. 😍 More thoughts to come.

  11. 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

  12. 5 out of 5

    Soyoon Kim

    I got chills drawing the parallels between my mother and Chongmi; their mannerisms, philosophies on death, the precision in preserving clothing for years, housekeeping...all of that. There is some universal 엄마ness that unites Korean mothers and endears them to their 딸. It's something quite unexplainable, but somehow Michelle translates these feelings in her memoir, the feeling of reverence, fear, aspiration, and deep desire to please 엄마 and earn her approval. I admire the way she's able to flesh I got chills drawing the parallels between my mother and Chongmi; their mannerisms, philosophies on death, the precision in preserving clothing for years, housekeeping...all of that. There is some universal 엄마ness that unites Korean mothers and endears them to their 딸. It's something quite unexplainable, but somehow Michelle translates these feelings in her memoir, the feeling of reverence, fear, aspiration, and deep desire to please 엄마 and earn her approval. I admire the way she's able to flesh out portraits of all of her relations—mother, father, grandmother, aunts—with such a deep generosity. She releases her past and ongoing resentments to the people she loves while acknowledging their biographies, these specific circumstances and contexts that might help explain the way they are. It goes without saying that she applies this same generosity to herself; admitting past wrongs, sharing perverse confessions. Michelle captures well the feeling of tension between otherness and belonging as an ethnic-Korean in America, as an Asian-American in Korea, and shuttling between these two states. And while I am so grateful to see published this story that captures the frustrations, pain, joy, and levity found in Asian-American girlhood, I hope that Michelle is "keeping her 10%" from us, or at least continuing to do so. Idk if this makes sense but she's given so much of herself already; I just want for her to rest and enjoy herself. I welcome all that she has to offer the world and hope she that she puts herself first no matter what she does. I could go on, but I will let simmer these thoughts a bit longer. I LOVE YOU MICHELLE, thank you.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aseah Khan

    What struck me about this book was the manner in which it was written: casual, as if my older sister is telling me about her life. It makes it easy to return to several pages and it makes it easy to understand when there is a point being emphasized. This is what makes the story so engaging and moreover, so gut-wrenchingly real. I like Michelle's music but I was not a huge fan since I didn't know much about her. I knew more of her from the New Yorker article and now, I'm in awe of her. This book What struck me about this book was the manner in which it was written: casual, as if my older sister is telling me about her life. It makes it easy to return to several pages and it makes it easy to understand when there is a point being emphasized. This is what makes the story so engaging and moreover, so gut-wrenchingly real. I like Michelle's music but I was not a huge fan since I didn't know much about her. I knew more of her from the New Yorker article and now, I'm in awe of her. This book is amazing. If you ever had a parent who was ill, so many parts will hurt you but those parts will also help you learn. She explains the feel of being an "other" all too perfectly, a feeling most asian americans are feeling at the moment, a feeling I have felt my entire life. I can go on about how amazing this book is but right now I just want to say Thank You! After reading this book, I spent the last hour downloading Japanese Breakfast songs and listening to them as I moved on to my next read. This book made me a fan of Michelle, her music, art, and life, and I am 100000% sure it will make you one too!

  14. 5 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

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steve Haruch

    Being Korean American and already a fan of Michelle Zauner's music under the Japanese Breakfast moniker, I was predisposed to love this book. Having read the title essay in the New Yorker I was predisposed to love this book. Even so, I was struck by just how much I loved it. I'm so grateful for this book — for how it walks through grief not as a way to leave it behind, but as a way to remember its exact shape. I'm grateful for its funny, self-deprecating and wise observations, and for its diffic Being Korean American and already a fan of Michelle Zauner's music under the Japanese Breakfast moniker, I was predisposed to love this book. Having read the title essay in the New Yorker I was predisposed to love this book. Even so, I was struck by just how much I loved it. I'm so grateful for this book — for how it walks through grief not as a way to leave it behind, but as a way to remember its exact shape. I'm grateful for its funny, self-deprecating and wise observations, and for its difficult beauty.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Woda

    Very impressed by this memoir (and obsessed with all the food writing). Left me calling my mother to thank her for everything.

  17. 4 out of 5

    laura likes lit ⁷

    this title really called me out and i. don't. like. it. there's nothing like buying comfort kimchi and tteokboki after failing your tests :D this title really called me out and i. don't. like. it. there's nothing like buying comfort kimchi and tteokboki after failing your tests :D

  18. 5 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.

  19. 4 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I think for anyone who is familiar/a fan of Japanese Breakfast, then you might already be familiar with the immense loss that Michelle has experienced already from what she has revealed in her songs, in her interviews, and in other writings such as the New Yorker essay that is now the first chapter of this memoir. What the book does is deepen the understanding through her well-written - and well-remembered - recollections of her mother, the final months of her life, and how Michelle has carried I think for anyone who is familiar/a fan of Japanese Breakfast, then you might already be familiar with the immense loss that Michelle has experienced already from what she has revealed in her songs, in her interviews, and in other writings such as the New Yorker essay that is now the first chapter of this memoir. What the book does is deepen the understanding through her well-written - and well-remembered - recollections of her mother, the final months of her life, and how Michelle has carried forward since then. Her experiences are written with such clarity and maturity that it's startling when you remember that she's not even that old and has already been through so much in her life. For anyone who is thinking of reading this and is not familiar with Michelle's music, two things: 1. You absolutely should check out her albums (her third one, "Jubilee," comes out this June) and 2. I think what you should prepare for in this case is a carefully crafted memoir of a woman, whose relationship with her mother was undeniably complicated at times, but was still filled with a lot of love. To refer to "Crying in H Mart" as just a food memoir doesn't do it justice. For those who aren't Asian American, Michelle's recollections of the foods that she and her mom shared and what she looks for when at an H Mart nowadays is love being expressed to the fullest extent.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tiara Hess

    I took a graduate course on food and memory a couple years back. Toward the end of the semester, tired of meeting in our stuffy classroom, we convinced our professor that we should meet at local restaurants instead. We ended up claiming a weekly table at a local Vietnamese cafe. The change of scenery was welcomed, but it also added layers to a course I continue to reflect back on. Which brings me to this book… Michelle’s descriptions of food, of each ingredient, and of the steps she took in conne I took a graduate course on food and memory a couple years back. Toward the end of the semester, tired of meeting in our stuffy classroom, we convinced our professor that we should meet at local restaurants instead. We ended up claiming a weekly table at a local Vietnamese cafe. The change of scenery was welcomed, but it also added layers to a course I continue to reflect back on. Which brings me to this book… Michelle’s descriptions of food, of each ingredient, and of the steps she took in connecting food and memory while cooking on her own were brilliant. Her descriptions lit all of my senses on fire. The description of her mother’s illness was honest and courageous. Honestly, from the first line of the book, I didn’t want to put it down. My only criticism is that I wish Zauner could have been kinder to herself. I found her dismissive of her own mental health as a teenager especially—it didn’t turn me off from finishing, but it nagged at the back of my mind. Perhaps that’s how she chooses to reflect on herself from that time period, but it felt like she was really hard on herself, paralleling the criticisms from her family members. Exploring that maybe would have been beyond the scope of this story, but I hope she’s able to find forgiveness within herself.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Meha

    Outstanding. There's a frankness to Zauner's writing which cuts to the quick. Love and grief and the diaspora experience are so inextricably linked in her story and yet all so sharply rendered. Her pain speaks to your own, it draws from somewhere deep within her that's impossible not to respond to. One of the best, most moving books I've read this year. Full review available on my blog. Outstanding. There's a frankness to Zauner's writing which cuts to the quick. Love and grief and the diaspora experience are so inextricably linked in her story and yet all so sharply rendered. Her pain speaks to your own, it draws from somewhere deep within her that's impossible not to respond to. One of the best, most moving books I've read this year. Full review available on my blog.

  24. 4 out of 5

    tanvi!

    This book makes me want to drop everything, drive home, hug my mom, and make her teach me how to cook every Indian dish she knows. It's so good. The writing is lovely - it's simple and frank, and leaves you feeling like Zauner's sitting across the table, reminiscing over a cup of coffee. She switches between childhood memories and adult experiences effortlessly, and crafts a beautiful tribute to her relationship with her mom. Despite my best efforts, I've never been a huge reader of memoirs, but This book makes me want to drop everything, drive home, hug my mom, and make her teach me how to cook every Indian dish she knows. It's so good. The writing is lovely - it's simple and frank, and leaves you feeling like Zauner's sitting across the table, reminiscing over a cup of coffee. She switches between childhood memories and adult experiences effortlessly, and crafts a beautiful tribute to her relationship with her mom. Despite my best efforts, I've never been a huge reader of memoirs, but this was definitely beyond worth the read - and maybe you'll see me picking up some more memoirs because of it. :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I first picked up this book, not because I like the author’s music (which I do), but because I love food memoirs. Crying in H Mart is so much more than a food memoir though. It is the story of a mother and a daughter, sometimes at odds, but caring deeply for each other. This is a story of loss and grief, healing, growth, and culture. Parts of this book are completely heartbreaking and I had to put the book down for a couple minutes. Korean food is what ties the story all together, both Zauner ea I first picked up this book, not because I like the author’s music (which I do), but because I love food memoirs. Crying in H Mart is so much more than a food memoir though. It is the story of a mother and a daughter, sometimes at odds, but caring deeply for each other. This is a story of loss and grief, healing, growth, and culture. Parts of this book are completely heartbreaking and I had to put the book down for a couple minutes. Korean food is what ties the story all together, both Zauner eating it and learning to make it on her own to feel closer to her mother after her passing. To put it simply: I love this book. I won’t say that I “enjoyed” it, because it was quite sad at times and hit pretty freaking close to home. It was easy to read though and I really liked the author’s voice. It is personable and feels like a friend telling me about their life. I am also very close to my mother, so it was very difficult to read the parts where her mother is going through cancer treatments and her eventual passing. It was beautifully and vividly written, though; I could picture the scenes in my head and feel the emotions that the author evoked. Honestly, I’m having a hard time completely and succinctly putting my feelings for this book into words. Just read it. It was fantastic. It contains so much in an unassuming package. Be prepared for some tears, especially if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer. Expect to get super hungry at all the delicious-sounding food mentioned. You will commiserate with Michelle and you will root for her as she goes through her 20s to become the awesome lady she is today. One part that I had to mention: There is a whole passage about the band Modest Mouse. I love this band. They are my favorite band! I am very jealous that Zauner got to see them in the early aughts, which I would argue was their best era, but it was really neat to read her description of a show she went to and the first time she went crowd surfing! Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Lin

    This book made me think of my own relationship with my mother. It put into words a relationship that is both complex and unequivocal.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I give this five stars with my entire being. This is one of the most important memoirs of 2021 and anyone (and everyone) who has ever grappled with grief should read it.

  28. 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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    All her life, Michelle Zauner’s mother, Chongmi, told her, “Stop crying. Save your tears for when your mother dies.” Zauner’s memoir, CRYING IN H MART, stands as her abandoned, all-consuming, grieving cry in response to her mother’s untimely death. For Zauner, as for many, losing her mother felt like losing a part of herself. As a biracial woman with a Korean mother and a white father, Chongmi was her most direct connection to her Asian culture. She spoke the language, cooked Korean dishes, broug All her life, Michelle Zauner’s mother, Chongmi, told her, “Stop crying. Save your tears for when your mother dies.” Zauner’s memoir, CRYING IN H MART, stands as her abandoned, all-consuming, grieving cry in response to her mother’s untimely death. For Zauner, as for many, losing her mother felt like losing a part of herself. As a biracial woman with a Korean mother and a white father, Chongmi was her most direct connection to her Asian culture. She spoke the language, cooked Korean dishes, brought her along to the local Asian grocery store, and traveled with her to Korea every summer to stay with her family. Without Chongmi, who gave her access to this part of herself and her heritage, Zauner felt stranded. Growing up, Zauner struggled to understand her mother’s kind of love. She writes about her parents as whole people, neither glorifying nor degrading them. In the process of her writing, it seems that Zauner can see her mother more clearly. She was neither comforting nor warm, but she was fiercely honest. Zauner quotes Chongmi as saying, “Mommy is the only one who will ever tell you the truth, because Mommy is the only one who will ever truly love you.” Though she did not understand Chongmi’s love for a long time, she still believed that her mother loved her more than anyone else. Zauner, in her tomboyish youth and depressed teenage years, did not gain her mother’s approval in terms of looks or behavior. Instead, they found common ground at the dinner table. Zauner’s love of Korean food was what made her mother the proudest. Zauner writes in a way that carefully sets the table for each scene. When talking about a gathering, she takes as much care to describe the food shared as conversations that were had over it. Whether it's eating fried chicken and drinking beer with her cousin, or savoring the delicate aftertaste of homemade jatjuk, a pine nut soup, she knows how food connects people and anchors them to their reality. A warning to readers: Her beautiful prose will leave you hungry. Having grown up being praised by her family for loving briny, tart, sweet and spicy flavors, Zauner feels out of her depth when her mother’s cancer diagnosis comes with difficulty stomaching anything but the plainest foods. When she is undergoing chemotherapy, the strong flavorful food that Chongmi loves becomes too much for her to take on. Zauner’s instinct is to make her Korean dishes that will comfort her and remind her of her childhood, but when even an egg souffle is too much, Zauner retreats. A family friend takes over, knowing exactly which porridges and soups to serve Chongmi, while Zauner counts her mother’s calories and makes sure she has eaten enough. Illness is an ever-looming presence in this book. As Chongmi loses her ability to enjoy food, we see her ability to enjoy life shrink against the dominating force of cancer. After her mother dies, Zauner believes that she has less of a claim to her own culture. She doesn't feel as connected to Chongmi’s family in Korea and worries about visiting without having her mother there to lean on. However, her fears are slowly ameliorated when she finds a YouTube channel called “Cooking with Maangchi,” which makes accessible the recipes that her elders hadn’t passed down to her. The book highlights the healing power of cooking, demonstrating how the food we eat can remind us of who we are and where we came from. For Zauner, cooking was her way of reestablishing a connection with her culture in the absence of her mother. At its heart, CRYING IN H MART is about what connects people and how we define ourselves by those relationships. It is filled with rich stories of familial love that weather the storms of immigration, illness and death. Michelle Zauner gracefully and honestly shares the story of her life as a growing artist learning about herself and her mother. She skillfully has crafted a memoir that is as heartbreaking as it is comforting and page-turning. Reviewed by Julianne Holmquist

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ithil

    I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange of a review. All opinions my own. CW: cancer, terminal illness, death of parent Although I am not a very non-fiction kind of person, I am trying to encourage myself to read more books that I would not read spontaneously, but that I think I would enjoy if I just give them the chance. In this case, it was the way that the author talked about food in the blurb, it brought me memories from home. Whilst not so racially charged and with many differences, I I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange of a review. All opinions my own. CW: cancer, terminal illness, death of parent Although I am not a very non-fiction kind of person, I am trying to encourage myself to read more books that I would not read spontaneously, but that I think I would enjoy if I just give them the chance. In this case, it was the way that the author talked about food in the blurb, it brought me memories from home. Whilst not so racially charged and with many differences, I am an immigrant in another country, as was my mother, and food and flavour bring similar memories to me. I can prove it with the huge bottles of cola cao that I hoard in my pantry. Mainly, I absolutely adored the way it was written. I found it very accessible despite some hard themes. It was not unnecessarily adorned, or tedious. Despite sometimes narrating challenging moments, overall, I felt it as a very page turning and interesting book. It was such a delight to read, as it felt like reading a letter from a close friend. I really enjoyed how she described her relation with her family, as I found it very relatable for myself, but also for many people around my age in one way or another. Maybe not because of Michelle being mixed race, but wanting to pursue her dream as a musician, growing up in a tiny and isolated village, parents with very high expectations, studying away from home, or having a terminal illness in the family. I don’t know, I felt as there were many points in which the reader could feel that their lives are not so different but very relatable. It was very interesting for me, at a personal level, reading about her travels to Korea as it was evocative of my own travel to my mother’s country when I was younger. Her way of dealing with the people and the whole experience of being in a country from which you are from, but at the same time aren’t, is a very specific one and I think she managed to make it widely accessible even for people who may not have had that experience growing up. I sometimes found myself marvelled on how accurately she could describe some acts and inner feelings that I may have felt, but was unable or incapable of describing. Despite the situation, Michelle narration was a true delight and I found her introspective narration engaging and very interesting to read. Even people with similar experiences would not have similar feelings or reacted way different but she makes it easily understandable and even relatable to any similar experience you may have had. Again, it was one of the things I enjoyed the most. I wanted to keep reading and reading out of interest and concern on how would her life continue and what was going to happen next. Besides: the food. The way she narrates and describes the different dishes made me so curious and intrigued to try many recipes. I am a little bit familiar with the Korean kitchen and culture, still it has made nothing but encourage me to search and look for more ingredients and recipes and even youtube chefs to elevate the book to another whole level. And the same goes for the music as I found myself listening to Michelle’s own one Japanese Breakfast, while reading the pages. As to whether or not read the book, I would absolutely recommend it unless it is triggering for you in any way. I was familiar with the author because of her music, although not a hardcore fan, and did not know much of her personal life but this is a memoir that I will probably read again and recommend to my friends and customers.

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