By Michelle Giuseffi
Typically, we read memoirs of famous people like presidents or celebrities, or of people who have experienced a historical tragedy, like Holocaust survivors. We are interested in hearing what these people went through to attain fame or to survive in difficult times. Kim Sunée doesn't meet any of these standards. Sunée is a writer, food enthusiast and world traveler. Even though she is not famous, Sunée's memoir, "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home," is captivating enough to become a national bestseller.
Kim's story begins in Korea where she was abandoned by her mother in a marketplace at the age of three. She was then adopted by an American couple and brought to New Orleans. Kim loved her new family, but New Orleans did not feel like home to her and as a result, left to study in Europe. While living in Stockholm, she meets Olivier, a well-off businessman in the cosmetics industry.
The memoir captures Sunée's search for a place that feels like home. That "home" is certainly not New Orleans or Korea, as her trip "back home" with Olivier proves to be disappointing. Kim seems almost at home with Olivier, but feels tied down by Olivier's need to make decisions for her. Two things in Kim's life seem more like home than any place could ever be: cooking and poetry.
The reader is presented with poetic, sensory-rich descriptions of foods Kim eats and cooks throughout the memoir. Besides these descriptions, there are recipes at the end of most chapters. Sunée provides a documented menu of food from around the world from Korean Kimchi to the New Orleans style dish that she endearingly calls Uncle Kerry's Monday Red Beans and Rice, as well as French Croque-Madame and many more in between. These delicious sounding recipes are enough to make even a non-cooking college student want to whip up some Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls with Citrus Vanilla Drizzle.
Sunée's writing has a poetic feel which is especially seen in her use of imagery, mainly with regard to her descriptions of food, and the vivid accounts of her dreams, which usually feature her abandonment in Korea. In the memoir, Olivier buys Kim a poetry store, A Tire D'Ailes, which Kim truly loves despite its inability to make a profit.
The only regret an American reader has when reading "Trail of Crumbs" is not being able to understand French. There is quite a bit of dialogue in French, which the reader is left guessing at the meaning. The memoir, of course, makes sense to the English-speaking reader, but the French dialogue leaves the reader questioning, and almost wanting to pull out a French-English dictionary.
If you like food, traveling and a good story about the coming-of-age of a modern woman, Kim Sunée's memoir "Trail of Crumbs" will leave your appetite satisfied. The love stories, the family hardships, the recipes and the travel log of Kim's life offer something for every reader to appreciate.