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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.

Review: Good Neighbors

Good Neighbors
Good Neighbors
By Sarah Langan
Washington Square Press, 9781982144371, October 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

No good neighbors here. This is an example of how an entire neighborhood can fall prey to rumors, lies, and accusations if the right person makes it her mission to to see a neighborhood into ruin.

The Rest of It:

You might have a Maple Street in your neighborhood. That perfect cul de sac neighborhood, that borders a park, is home to many families and children, and yes, drama, lots of it.

One very hot summer, the maws of Maple Street literally open as a result of global warming and climate change. Their once idyllic neighborhood is now home to a very large sink hole. One that oozes noxious fumes and sludge that covers every surface, shoes, walls, car tires, carpets. You name it. The neighborhood kids, affectionately called The Rat Pack (sarcasm) congregate as best they can while the sink hole seems to have its own life. But when something happens to one of their own and the accusations start flying, the inhabitants of Maple Street begin to take sides and just short of a lynching, one family finds themselves as the target.

I found it interesting that the street in question is Maple Street. Do you remember that Twilight Zone episode where all the neighbors turn on each other? It was called The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and that same title applies here. Seemingly sane people become anything but that. Common sense goes out the window and the family at the top of their list struggles just to live in this hostile neighborhood.

At first, my book club didn’t think there would be much to discuss but we took the entire time discussing the book and how, although a bit ridiculous when it came to the sink hole, we all agreed that a neighborhood could easily turn if the right person was stoking the fire. Think of your neighborhood groups like Next Door. I cannot belong to these groups. Their constant chatter about a kid on the corner, or a car driving by more than once, gives me anxiety. But it just takes one person to stir up hysteria in a neighborhood.

This was not an enjoyable read. There is a lot of nastiness going on but it was suspenseful even though much of the plot points are given away at the top of each chapter via news articles. I had absolutely no problem flying through this one. I had to know how it all ended given how grim the story was.

Have you read it? It was a good book to discuss.

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