Crying in H Mart

A Memoir

Hardcover, 256 pages

English language

Published by Knopf Publishing Group.

OCLC Number:

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5 stars (9 reviews)

A memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

Michelle Zauner 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.

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 …

1 edition

Outstanding memoir

5 stars

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend; I had never listened to Japanese Breakfast prior to reading. The book is a touching and skillfully written memoir, all the more so since it is by someone so young. She writes movingly about her relationship with her mother, and the importance that food has in tying her to her Korean heritage. She doesn't shy away from difficult subjects or the moments when she and her parents do not get along. The book covers her mother's illness and death, and Zauner explores how she dealt with her grief at such a tragic loss. Despite having almost no background on the author, I enjoyed this book immensely.

A bittersweet memoir of family, the immigrant / mixed race experience and food

3 stars

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. I always love reading (hearing?) about the mixed heritage and/or immigrant experience, and I always love reading about food, and this book is heavy on both those points.

This is a memoir the author's loss of her mother and the work to integrate and come to terms with her mother's Korean heritage. There is a big emphasis on food as a cultural touchstone and social binding agent. Made me want to eat (more) Korean food.

I enjoyed this a lot, but I'm taking a couple of stars off because at times the writing didn't feel great, and at times it felt repetitive. It is possible that that narrated by a more gifted reader or as a plain old non-audio book it would have landed better for me.

we've been eating comforting korean food a lot more this month

4 stars

Great memoir of losing a parent as a young adult, and of Korean cuisine's staples and nooks, like a nostalgic meal this is heavy but a rich balance of time spent caring and fearing and collecting and tying back to well before and gathering the family into what comes after.

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  • Nonfiction
  • Memoir
  • Coming of Age
  • Korean American
  • Seoul
  • Cancer
  • Korean food
  • Rock music