What’s It About (From Goodreads):
A memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
Michelle Zauner 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.
As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band—and meeting the man who would become her husband—her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
I do not know if I even have the words to describe how much I loved this book. It touched me in a lot of ways that I wasn’t expecting. Also, I am not a nonfiction reader. I genuinely stay in the fiction genre but when I saw BTS’s Jungkook holding this book up I grew curious. Then when I read what it was about I knew that I had to get my hands on this book.
I lost my mother in 2017 to depression and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. Death of a parent can swallow you up and the grieving process can be brutal. I truly loved the raw emotion that was shown. Zauner did not sugarcoat what she felt and I appreciated that so very much.
The relationship that Zauner had with her mother was special. She was able to share culture through not only the trips taken to see family in Korea, but the food. This book made me hungry several times and I made a list of all the foods I would love to try someday, but it was in that food that their relationship as mother and daughter was deepened.
Food in Korean culture and in many other cultures is sacred. It is a way of storytelling. It is a way of nurturing, nourishing, healing, and celebrating. There are certain dishes made depending on holidays, health, and birthdays. It was beautiful to see how each dish was written about with such love.
The relationship between Zauner and her mother was not always easy. She, like most daughters had moments in her life where her mother made it hard for her to fully understand. We all have had moments where a parent or guardian didn’t understand us. It proves to be a challenge and we all navigate it in different ways. I found myself nodding my head in understanding throughout the whole book.
This book is probably one of my favorites of the year. I think it shares with us being human and being a mother, a child, and living to the best of our ability. We don’t know what time we have left and sometimes we have to take life in both our hands to hold on, but please enjoy every second.