Tag Archives: Book Club Reading List

Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton
By Elizabeth Strout
Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812979527, October 2016, 240pp.

The Short of It:

Trauma takes many forms.

The Rest of It:

Lucy Barton is hospitalized for an unknown illness which has taken a bad turn. An infection, most likely. Her short hospital stay turns into several days which prompts her mother to show up at the hospital. Lucy’s husband William is at home with their children, but he, for whatever reason does not like hospital visits and decides not to come. Instead, he pays for Lucy’s mom to show up.

This, in itself is strange. Lucy and her mother have a strange relationship to say the least. Growing up in poverty, and being exposed to some strange behavior has caused damage that Lucy does her best to live with, but it’s always there and from her hospital bed she carefully observes her mother at the foot of her bed, wondering how they got there.

There’s not a lot of action in this story. It’s mostly a “thinking” story. As Lucy considers the life she’s lived, you as the reader will also consider the choices you’ve made as a wife, mother, sibling. From the outside looking in, it’s clear that this family has a lot of things to work through but do they want to? In Lucy’s case, yes because she is trying not to repeat the same mistakes with her own children but you get the impression that she’s not succeeding all that well.

We read this for book club and although it wasn’t enjoyed by all, it gave us plenty to talk about. There are two other books by this author that include the same characters,  Anything is Possible, Oh William! and Lucy by the Sea which just came out. I liked the book enough to pick up the other books but it’s definitely not a happy story and a little sad here and there.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart
By Michelle Zauner
Knopf, 9780525657743, April 2021, 256pp.

The Short of It:

If not for the food talk, I’m not sure I would have liked this one as much as I did.

The Rest of It:

What many of you may not know is that Crying in H Mart is a memoir.

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 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 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. ~ Indiebound

The relationship that Zauner and her mother shared was strained at best. Asian mothers are known to be critical and Zauner’s mom was certainly that, but she was also ill and dying and yet, the two were still like oil and water except for when it came to food. The food of Zauner’s childhood takes center stage here and there is comfort to be had as she takes the reader by the hand and walks them through the aisles of H Mart. Literally. I was so taken by the mention of those foods that I sought out an H Mart near me (35 miles away) so I could experience what she described in the book. Unfortunately, I visited the story in the evening so all the food stalls were closed. I did leave with some Korean snacks though for our book club meeting.

It was hard to have empathy for Zauner. She seemed a little bratty although she was a young adult when her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Her exasperation over her father’s handling of the diagnosis was difficult to read at times. People handle grief in different ways so her demanding him to react a certain way made for tense reading.

I do feel that she wrote this with a bit of space between herself and her story. At times she felt very disconnected from the story she was telling. Self-preservation? Perhaps. However, it kept me from getting fully invested in the story. I liked it, and felt she had something to say but not sure it came across as intended.

It was good for discussion though and the snacks were great.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.