Date Started: May 16th, 2023
Date Finished: June 9th, 2023
Michele Zauner is a brilliant author whose attention to detail regarding both food and emotion and how they interweave with one another is absolutely breathtaking. I could picture each dish she wrote about in my mind, her descriptions rivaling the visual portrayal of food in a Studio Ghibli film. That's how wonderfully vivid her words were. I could practically see the Korean fried chicken, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and gyeranjjim jumping off the page and into my rumbling belly.
However, I still find myself struggling to give a star rating for her memoir. I believe this is primarily because her story shines a light directly onto my own life and the recent struggles I have found myself facing in regards to the parent/ child dynamic and the issues that stem from generational trauma.
While reading this memoir, I found (and highlighted) many instances where the dynamics between Michelle and her mother (and sometimes her father) felt toxic or uncomfortable. Of course, I must note that I read this story through a very specific lens having recently decided to cut ties with both of my parents. But--from my outside perspective--the dynamics within this family did not seem the most healthy and caused me a mixture of frustration and heartbreak when Michelle turned the blame onto herself.
I literally had to close this book for a few weeks as it became too much for me to read. The enmeshed relationship between mother and daughter felt too similar to my own, which left me emotionally drained.
In the end, my takeaway from this book is that the parent/ child relationship is one of the most complex relationships we will ever experience in our lives and everyone views it differently, oftentimes vastly. We can never truly know or understand the feelings that run deep within the relationships between families outside of our own, nor can we (or should we) judge any person's choice to stay within those dynamics or leave them entirely. And to add in an additional layer of becoming a parental caretaker complicates matters even more, creating a large, swirling vortex of feelings that may never become untangled.