Tag Archives: Memoir

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: Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
Memorial Drive
By Natasha Trethewey
Ecco, 9780062248589, June 2021, 224pp.

The Short of It:

A beautiful, heartbreaking memoir. If memoirs aren’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up.

The Rest of It:

“Natasha Trethewey was 19 when her mother was murdered by her stepfather in 1985. For decades, she hid the event, and memories of her mother, in the recesses of her mind while she went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and become the Poet Laureate of the United States. Now, decades later, she opens herself up to her past to produce a harrowing yet beautiful memorial.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY

My book club chose this book for March. Initially I had a hard time finding a library copy so I went with the audio, which is just beautiful but just a few chapters in, I knew I’d want to own a copy so I bought the paperback. Trethewey is a poet so the passages are often heartbreakingly beautiful. I found myself reading a chapter and then taking a little time to sit with it before moving on to the next. I first heard about this book when Obama chose it for one of his “best of” lists. He’s not wrong.

Besides the beauty of the written word itself, I could not help but be affected by Trethewey’s grief and obvious pain over her mother’s death at the hand of her stepfather. Both mother and daughter dealt with his abuse. Steps were taken to ensure their safety, and yet the legal system still failed them. The murder took place in 1985 but really, when it comes to domestic violence not a whole lot has changed.

While reading this book, I was reminded of all the drama over Kanye and his recent threats to Pete Davidson, who is now dating Kanye’s ex. That celebrity couple is in the public eye. The rants and threats are made publicly and still, little is being done. Trevor Noah recently called it out. If a women like Kim K can’t feel protected, then who can?

While discussing this book, many of Trethewey’s poems were shared and they are just beautiful. If you decide to pick this book up, check out her other works too.

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