3.5 star, nonfiction

Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

An unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she 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.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

My friends and I decided to do a bookclub on this book because as Asian Canadians, we thought we might relate. Each person had such a different relationship with their parents and I think that is what the core of this story came down to.

Crying in H Mart is about half-Korean half-white Michelle Zauner, as she gives her plain view on her grief and relationship with her mother and her mother’s death. The story revolves a lot around Korean food and the relationship they shared with food and the memories that created. A rough childhood with tough love quickly turns conflicted when her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, bringing Michelle along an emotional journey where she is forced to confront her feelings for her mother.

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Let’s Talk Bookish – Matching Characters

Aria @ Book Nook Bits will be the new host for Let’s Talk Bookish! If you aren’t following her yet, good check out her blog and give her a follow!

May 20: Have you got any characters who you feel reflect you as a person? (Mikaela @ Mikaela Reads)

Prompts: What fictional characters do you think you have the most in common with? What is it you have in common with them? Do you think you would get along with these characters if you could meet them in real life? Have fictional characters ever helped you understand yourself better? How does it feel to read about a character who really reflects you as a person?

Welcome everyone to another week of LTB here at DTRH! This week’s topic is certainly something I always think about, and I’d love to hear how the rest of you feel about characters that you resonate with too. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

I think I relate with a lot of characters that deal with self-sacrifice. I always think that I would do the same (or not the same) in their situation and that always gets me thinking about the values that I hold dear. Another type of character that I relate to is one with a similar parent-child relationship to my own family. I suppose this is related to the first idea, of how much you would be willing to do for your own family.

With these characters, I feel like the way we look at the world and consider the different values in it can be pretty similar. I’m not sure that would necessarily translate to us getting along in real life, but I would certainly be able to at least relate to their actions and understand the motivations behind their actions. If I were to meet these characters, I would try and get to know more about their intentions and what drives them to make these tough choices, but I think whether or not we’d be friends would rely on other factors.

I think reading about any fictional character always helps me to better understand myself. It is clear that some protagonists (or other characters) you just can’t get along with or just can’t agree with. I usually use this time to reflect on myself after reading the book, and to consider why it is that I just couldn’t relate or care about those characters. Most often it will be an attitude or perhaps a core value problem, that really sets us apart. I’m almost certain that I would not be friends with those characters, but at least it does help me to understand myself and how I think a bit better.

Sometimes seeing characters in a book that really reflect you in a book can be eye-opening. First, you get to attached to such a character (for obvious reasons), and their every triumph and folly almost becomes your own. It can be interesting in those situations to think about whether or not you’d react the same (given your similarities), and that can really give more perspective on whether you are similar or not. Sometimes a disposition can be the end of a similarity, because the actions you choose to take from those motivations/perceptions can often be more important than what you were inclined to do. If the character does something silly from an outside perspective as a reader, it can be a good reminder to self-check and look at whether you might also do those things unknowingly.

What do you all think about characters? Do you meet characters that match you? I assume that’s one of the charms of reading and that there will always be characters that you feel more attached to for one reason or another. How do you feel relating to them? Let me know in the comments below!

3 star

Review: Such a Winter’s Day by Carlene Thompson

Juliet Reid wasn’t able to save her murdered brother almost ten years ago. Can she face her demons to stop an ice-cold killer in their tracks a decade later?

Nine and a half years ago, Juliet’s talented brother Fin should have returned home. He didn’t. When Juliet set out to find him that snowy winter evening, she made a devastating discovery.

Now, Juliet returns to the small town of Parrish, Ohio to celebrate her twenty-fifth birthday with her parents. But when she arrives, she receives the shocking news that her father appears to have committed suicide. Why was he so distant shortly before his death? And why was he suddenly asking questions about Fin before his brutal murder?

As Juliet tries to come to terms with another family tragedy, she finds herself at the center of a series of spine-tingling events. What chilling secrets did her father uncover, and can she stop an ice-cold killer who’s determined to keep them hidden?

A relatively new book and definitely a new author to me. The synopsis was interesting and had great promise (and hence why I picked it), but ultimately a couple of things fell short for me in the execution of the whole thing. Still, I think I’d be open to reading some other books by this author because there were definitely elements that I liked.

Such a Winter’s Day revolves around our protagonist, Juliet, who lost her brother nearly 10 years ago. Since then she has left town in an attempt to leave that all behind her. However, another family tragedy strikes when she returns home, and her grand homecoming becomes a huge nightmare. A classic tale of the tragic past coming back to haunt, just what was the truth behind the murder of her brother so many years ago?

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