Michelle Zauner tells a story of growing up Korean American in the states, and her bond with
her Korean mother, in a memoir of love, loss, and finding yourself. During her adolescence and
early adulthood, Michelle, a half-Korean and half-white girl, struggled: with her identity (was
she American or Korean?), with her family, and with her mom’s high expectations. But, while
Michelle and her mom didn’t have the best relationship growing up, there was one thing they
could always bond over: Korean food. As she grows up and begins to become more independent,
her life is turned upside down with her mom’s cancer diagnosis. Now, Michelle realizes, her
mom cannot care for her anymore. She needs to take care of her mom. As her mother’s condition
worsens, she begins to discover things about herself and their bond through her connection with
Korean culture. Ultimately, she is able to reclaim the gifts her mother gave her and find herself.
This memoir was absolutely wonderful and provided an intimate look into Michelle’s personal
life. She explains her struggles growing up and what it took to overcome them in depth, and I
feel many can relate to her childhood. My favorite thing about this book, however, is her
depiction of grief; feeling okay one day, but absolutely hopeless the next. This memoir felt very
candid, as if she didn’t hold back and poured all her honest emotions into it while writing. I
greatly appreciate that and want to commend her on how amazing she is. She discusses anger,
grief, selfishness, jealousy, etc, as well as the influence of Korean culture on her relationship
with her mom. Overall, though, this memoir is a story of love between a mother and her child,
and realizing too late how much we take for granted. It’s a story about being unsure of who you
are. And a reflection of how many of us may feel. After reading this book, I went and told my
mother how much I love her.
This was heartbreaking to read, and I recommend it to all audiences. 5/5 stars.