Crying in H-Mart: Book Review

TL;DR - Read Crying in H-Mart if you: love a good mother-daughter/family story, like Asian food/culture, or just in need to cry it out.

Crying in H-Mart is a memoir by Michelle Zauner, a bi-racial Korean American who moves to Oregon to help take care of her mom when she is diagnosed with cancer. The story heavily centers on the grief she experiences, but also how she honors her mother with memories of Korean food and cooking. 

Like my cool cousins Julie and Tara - I wanted to read Crying in H-Mart to be an "in the know" Asian-American (it debuted at #2 on the NYT and will also be adapted into a movie) but also because even though I'm not Korean, I still have some fond memories shopping at H-Mart (and my non-Asian coworkers have even asked me about it when for example it opened in SF.)


My favorite part of the book was Zauner recalling certain Korean recipes with her mom- kimchi, samgyetang, and even when she travels to Seoul the sensory details and ties with emotion really show the role food and culture play in our lives. In a lot of cultures, we commemorate and honor our family with food, and although this was more specific to a Korean-American perspective, was still extremely relatable and touching.


Although having an Asian parent is tough, they generally immigrated and stayed in America to make a better opportunity for their children, and Zauner's understanding of her mother sacrificing her own happiness at times is something that I am having a greater appreciation for. Zauner's sharing of something so personal is perhaps the greatest tribute to her mom, and it's great to hear a perspective of Asian-American culture that although born of a tragic event, will bring families and people closer together.

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