Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunée
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: White wine. Two years ago when I moved out her, Sam gifted me with two cases of wine. And this was the last of the last bottle of our favorite pinot grigio.
Already hailed as “brave, emotional, and gorgeously written” by Frances Mayes and “like a piece of dark chocolate–bittersweet, satisfying, and finished all too soon” by Laura Fraser, author of An Italian Affair, this is a unique memoir about the search for identity through love, hunger, and food.
Jim Harrison says, “TRAIL OF CRUMBS reminds me of what heavily costumed and concealed waifs we all are. Kim Sunée tells us so much about the French that I never learned in 25 trips to Paris , but mostly about the terrors and pleasure of that infinite octopus, love. A fine book.”
Kim Sunée was three years old when her mother took her to a crowded marketplace and left her on a bench with a fistful of food. Three terrifying days and nights later a policeman discovered Kim, who was clutching what was now only a fistful of crumbs.
Nearly twenty years later, Kim’s life is unrecognizable. Adopted by a family in New Orleans, she grew up as one of only two Asian children in her community. At the age of twenty-two, she becomes involved with a famous French businessman, and finds herself living in France, mistress over his houses in Provence and Paris, and stepmother to his eight year-old daughter.
But despite this glamorous lifestyle, Kim never really feels at home. Trail of Crumbs follows Kim as she cooks her way into many makeshift homes and discovers that familiar flavors are the antidote to a lifetime of wandering. Ultimately, it is in food and cooking that Kim finds solace and a sense of place.
Sensuous, intense, and intimate, this powerful memoir will appeal to anyone who is passionate about love, food, travel, or the ultimate search for self.
Drunk Overview: Kim Sunée was abandoned as a child in Seoul, adopted by a couple in Louisiana, USA, fell in love in Stockholm, realized what she needed to grow, and found herself in French New Guinea. This book is also about a love of food and of poetry.
Drunk Thoughts: You ever read non-fiction and feel disappointed in all of the ways someone was failed by the people around htem? Because this book epitomizes “people suck”
- first of all, Kim met some crazy impressive people. It was fascinating how many people she came into contact with that had some major cultural touchstone.
- And this book had the most gorgeous descriptions of food.
- The first few chapters are all ended with recipes. and I was listening to this on audiobook (so I’m going to be honest, I skipped them entirely), but there’s this beautiful emphasis on food in the first half of the book that just made it so clear how important it was to Kim.
- It ties into her background with her grandfather’s cajun cooking, and honestly, I love the way that brought her comfort for so much time.
- But that brings us to the point where so many people let Kim down.
- Her upbringing in the South alienated her, and her parents were unprepared to handle this. There’s also a scene later in the book that made it clear that her mother was unequippped to handle the difficulties of an adopted and foreign child.
- She also wasn’t protected in her romantic relationships.
- I’m not going to go into great deal, but the bulk of this book focuses on a relationship she had that was fairly emotionally abusive. I’ve heard this said elsewhere, but a gilded cage is still a cage.
- Reading a portrait of someone who seems strong willed, but oh so willing to follow someone with a clear vision was so painful.
- And the people her partner brought around were no better.
- There was a point in the book where someone was asking her why she wasn’t a better hostess while Kim was cooking a dinner for nearly 30 people on short notice.
- I mostly found myself frustrated for all the times Kim didn’t stand up for herself.
- She was in her early 20s while dating a man nearly 40 (this is a bright red flag), which makes it more understandable that someone could take advantage of her.
- But this book was a hard read, because she’s intelligent and a wonderful writer, and throughout the whole book it was clear that she deserved better than she was getting.
- That being said, the descriptions of where Kim has lived were gorgeous. I’m not sure if the various countries could be as beautiful as she described, but even through the nitty gritty details of life there was something ethereal about each of her living situations.
- Whether in a country mansion or small, quasi-crappy apartment (reading through the lines), France seemed wonderful.
What it Pairs With: I think this needs a french wine, ideally a Bordeaux. This book is as much a love letter to France as is a personal history.
Rating: 4/5. The prose was absolutely lovely.