Crying in H Mart

Knopf. Apr. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780525657743. $26.95. MEMOIR
Based on the viral 2018 New Yorker essay of the same name, this debut by Zauner is an exceptionally vivid memoir that deftly explores the complex relationships between culture and family, mothers and daughters. The details of Zauner’s mother’s illness and death, as well as their devastating impact on the author, make for gut-wrenching reading, but it’s hard to put this book down. The author holds nothing back as she navigates her adolescent search to understand her identity, made more complex by her biracial background. She’s particularly open about her evolving relationship with her mother. Much of the book follows her mother’s cancer diagnosis and Zauner’s efforts to care for her. Threaded throughout the narrative are musings on food and culture, and the role of food in helping us to build connections and memories—however difficult at times— with family. The details and cultural references here are particular to Zauner’s life, but her account contains so many all-too-common experiences of grief and endurance that it will resonate with just about everyone.
VERDICT Zauner has created a memoir that is distinctly her own, but it will leave a mark on anyone who reads it
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