This memoir made me cry, everywhere I listened to it. More than that, it made me hungry. For those of you who don’t know, H Mart is an American grocery store chain of Asian supermarkets. It’s one of the few places Asian-Americans can experience the tastes of home. It’s a wonderful place, filled with so many foods I have never seen or heard of. I used to go all the time in Boston, but there are only two in Colorado. Michelle Zauner finds herself crying in H Mart, because it reminds her of her mother. In the only place in America Zauner is surrounded by people of all different Asian cultures, and immersed in the food of her homeland, she is flooded with memories of her mother.
Zauner grew up in Oregon, to a Korean mother and an American father. She seamlessly weaves mouthwatering descriptions of Korean food with the story of losing her mother to cancer. She scatters little anecdotes from her childhood and her adulthood, showing little pieces of who her mother was, her Korean culture, how Zauner was raised, and who she became. Her memoir is funny, sad, sweet, salivating and full of hope, while acknowledging the unending reality of loss. I highly recommend listening to Zauner read the book herself.
Michelle Zauner is best known for her vocals in the alt pop band Japanese Breakfast. A band whose first album Psychopomp had a photo of Zauner’s mother, Chongmi, on the cover. The songs were written by Zauner when she was grieving her mother’s passing. Zauner planned to quit music after the album’s release, but it gained so much praise, the band continued and became the huge success they are today. Even though Chongmi never approved of her daughter’s dream of being a musician, she would be so proud.
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