Crying in H Mart

Books on Tape. Apr. 2021. 7:23 hrs. ISBN 9780593153901. $66.50. MEMOIR
As the daughter of an American father and a Korean mother, Zauner had an Oregon upbringing that was both typically American and undeniably Korean. From an early age, Zauner enjoyed her mother’s spicy, aromatic Korean fare; it wasn’t until adulthood that she realized that her mother’s unique way of expressing love was by preparing particular Korean dishes. As a child and teen, Zauner felt cheated of the cuddly nurturing love that her friends received from their mothers; eventually she chose to attend college on the East Coast, hoping to break free from her mother’s control. Zauner was at loose ends until she was confronted by the reality of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, after which she threw herself headfirst into researching the disease, caring for her mother, and learning to prepare the particular Korean dishes that her mother might find appetizing. Neither medicine nor Zauner’s nourishing cooking was able to save her mother’s life, but the journey to the end brought Zauner close to her Korean roots. It also inspired Psychopomp, Zauner’s first album under the name Japanese Breakfast (her solo musical project). Zauner herself narrates the audiobook, giving it emotional heft, as well as correct pronunciation of the Korean terms and foods that play pivotal roles.
VERDICT This memoir of loss and identity is both personal and universal. Essential for public libraries.
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