Sep 12, 2009

Book Review: Trail of Crumbs, a Memoir by Kim Sunee

Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home by Kim Sunée
Genre: memoir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trail of Crumbs is the memoir of a young woman haunted by memories of being lost or abandoned by her mother at age three in a Korean markeplace. Persistent nightmares and her longing for "Omma" to come back to claim her in that marketplace suggest an unfulfilling childhood in the U.S. with her adoptive family. Her adoptive mother she describes as distant and disapproving. Her happy memories in the U.S. are of her adoptive grandfather, who taught her about New Orleans food and cooking.

The book is partly about travel - Provence and Paris, France - and partly a memoir of the author's love affair with Europe, European food, and European men - very different from the "narrow" and circumscribed life in New Orleans. Kim Sunee escapes to college in France and stays to live in Europe for many years with her French lover Olivier and his young daughter. When she doesn't find fulfillment in this either, Sunee finally tries psychotherapy in France, where a psychiatrist tells her the problem - she is divided.

A quick trip to Asia, suggested by Olivier, doesn't do anything to heal this divide. Korea is unsatisfactory, and she becomes sick on a trip to China. She finally accepts herself and her life while spending time in French Guiana - a simpler place than any she has ever lived in.

Those interested in memoirs, adoption and adopted children, French food and recipes, and Provence, will enjoy the book - the personal journey of a Korean American woman and food writer seeking to find out where she belongs.
Kim Sunee is "founding food editor for Cottage Living and the host of 'Local Flavor with Kim Sunee' for" Her website is

Thanks to the Hachette Book Group for the review copy of this book.


  1. Great review. This sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Thanks, Harvee, for this and the previous review. Both books sound very interesting and well worth reading.

  3. Mo and Charlie: Can't tell you how much I appreciate your comments. Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed reading the reviews.

  4. Excellent review! I just picked this one up today at a book sale. Thanks for your review.

  5. Hi, Harvee! Thanks for sharing us this excellent review. I just love memoirs, and I think I'll be waiting for this book in bookstores.

  6. Diane: Glad you found the book at a sale. Enjoy it!

    Peter: The book was published 2008 and I got it from Hachette on, through Book Blogs member Miriam Parker of Hachette Books.

  7. This sounds like a truly interesting read!!! Love your review.

  8. While I was reading your review I actually forgot that this was a memoir, and was thinking that you were describing fiction. Amazing. It sounds like a captivating story.

  9. Good review, and sounds like an interesting read.

  10. I'm glad to hear you liked it. I am leading a discussion on this book in October for my book club. I haven't read it yet but had it on my TBR shelf for a very long time and I finally made myself suggest it for a book club read so I have to read it.

  11. I am not an adoptive parent but if I were I think I would dislike the book even more because of the treatment Kim gives her mother. Lol, I guess I am still upset with Kim about her lack of appreciation for the most obvious things and towards the people who deserve it most.
    But the book is still worth reading as I wrote in my review, the writing itself is very good and enjoyable so no struggling through the book in this respect.

  12. lilly: I can't imagine what it's like to know you've been abandoned by your parents and to never know how they are. I can see both sides. I did enjoy the book and Sunee's candor about her life.


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