Singer for the band Japanese Breakfast 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.
... powerfully maps a complicated mother-daughter relationship cut much too short ... Zauner's food descriptions transport us to the table alongside her ... a rare acknowledgement of the ravages of cancer in a culture obsessed with seeing it as an enemy that can be battled with hope and strength ...Zauner carries the same clear-eyed frankness to writing about her mother's death five months after her diagnosis ... It is rare to read about a slow death in such detail, an odd gift in that it forces us to sit with mortality rather than turn away from it.
From the moment we read the opening sentence of Michelle Zauner’s poignant memoir, we’re hooked. It’s a rare gift; Zauner perfectly distills the palpable ache for her mother and wraps her grief in an aromatic conjuring of her mother’s presence ... hardly ends in defeat, however. As difficult as her grief is, Zauner celebrates her mother in the very place they shared their most intimate joys, losses and pleasures: H Mart.
... a heartfelt, searching memoir ... Zauner’s storytelling—and recall of her past—is impeccable. Memories are rendered with a rich immediacy, as if bathed in a golden light ... Zauner is also adept at mapping the contradictions in her relationship with, and perception of, her mother ... The healing, connective power of food reverberates in nearly every chapter of this coming-of-age story...long, sensuous descriptions ... though her family experiences moments of love and relief, Zauner wisely does not imbue suffering with a posthumous glow of nobility. Suffering is painful, often defying meaning.