5 Minutes for Books — Trail of Crumbs

Memoir is a fairly new genre for me. If you’ve never read it, but you enjoy character-driven novels, you might enjoy reading “creative nonfiction” as it’s called. This week I’m reviewing (and giving away five copies) of a memoir called Trail of Crumbs.

A place and its people are often linked to its food. What I miss most about my Texas roots is the Tex-Mex and the barbecue.I long for the spicy Thai food so abundant in the Pacific Northwest that I enjoyed when we lived there. In my New England home, pizza has transcended the frozen disk or a chain delivery standard to which I had become accustomed.

In Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home (January 2008, Grand Central Publishing) food writer Kim Sunee’s self-discovery simmers as she embraces different cultures and cuisine. Her story begins as an abandoned child in an orphanage in Korea, takes her to her adoptive family’s home in New Orleans.

As a child living in New Orleans, she struggled to fit in with her white classmates, buttrail-of-crumbs.JPG found comfort in the kitchen at her grandfather’s side as he stirred up red beans and rice, jambalaya and other Cajun specialties. As a student, she lived in Paris and Sweden and quickly picked up the language and cuisine of those countries as well, using the food as a means of finding her way in the culture.

Falling in love with the founder of L’Occitane, Olivier Baussan, brings her to his home in Provence, where she should be happy, yet slips deeper into self-doubt. She is unsure of her ability to live up to the role of step-mother, hostess and lady of the house. Although the story is compelling and her experiences are interesting, I began to feel that as an author, she felt detached from her own life story. Then it hit me that, whether intentional or not, this is an incredible literary device and does serve to advance the plot of her “search for home.”

“I want to know everything about you. No secrets between us, okay?”

I nod, knowing this is impossible. How can he know everything about me, when I don’t even know myself?

Food is a supporting character throughout this novel, so as I read I found myself wanting to nosh–not on popcorn and Oreos, but to graze on soft cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit. Since none of those things are in my American cabinet, I was safe. However, each chapter ends with a few recipes that you can try on your own if you wish.

Because these types of stories are of a person’s real-life journey, there is no simple wrapped-up ending. One of the marks of a good memoir is that it leaves me wanting more. If I passed Kim Sunee on the street, I’d want to look her in the eye and see that she’s okay–that she’s happy and whole.  I have a feeling that she might be.

To enter to win one of five giveaway copies, please leave a comment. If you’d like, tell me if you are new to memoir or the title of one that you’ve enjoyed.

The winners of Laura Zigman’s Piece of Work are

#64 Christi
#56 Shelly
#132 Samantha Pruitt

Please look for an email from me requesting your address.


  1. Cindi Hoppes says

    Hi, Sounds like a wonderful book to me. It reminds me of my husband’s family. His sister is Thai/American, a child of the Vietnam War. My husband’s dad adopted her from her mother who was selling her on the street. She was very ill with infantigo and almost died. His sister has always had trouble fitting in no matter where the Air Force sent them! Please sign me up for this memoir. I would love to give it to my sister-in-law. Thanks very much…..Cindi

  2. says

    I’m definitely in the mood for a book like this. Since my husband and I changed our lifestyles to ones that are health-driven, I’ve become obsessed with food… exploring food and learning about food and experiencing food in a way I never did back in the drive-through days.

  3. says

    This sounds wonderful! I am new to memoirs, although I have loved many biographies. One of my favorites is Camille Claudel… I also spent some time after college living in Paris, and so the idea of experiencing different cultures and finding one’s way through food has always intrigued me.

  4. says

    I’ve been doing lots of reading since my son was born, since it’s hard for me to nurse at the keyboard. I’ve decided to try branching out into new genres of books besides my usual fantasy/sci fi or romance staples. I’d love a copy of this book.

  5. says

    This sounds fascinating! I believe food is central to life and that it does more for us then keep us alive. I think it may affect us in ways we wouldn’t think of so I’d love to read this and see what it has to say. I’m new to memoirs but would love to try one!

  6. says

    I’ve read some memoirs, but I can’t remember the exact titles right now! Must not have made a terribly big impression, huh? I’d love to read this one, though. :0)

  7. says

    I love “foodie” books, food blogs, cookbooks,and food! I have read all of Ruth Reichl’s books about her love of food and life as a restaurant critic and love Julia Child’s book about her life in France and discovering food and learning to cook – “My Life in France”. I would love to read this one too!

  8. fan says

    I’ve read one memoir before called The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom it was scary and sad. I’d love to read this one.

  9. Rachel says

    Memoirs are actually my favorite genre to read. The first one that comew to mind when I think of which have been my favorites is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. I reread it again recently. I lent it to my sister who has never read memoirs and she loved it. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert is another good one that has been a bit hit recently. The next one on my list to get is “Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States” by Pete Jordan. The guy wrote a zine for a while about his adventures traveling and working as a dishwasher, and I read and really enjoyed the issues I was able to get my hands on.

  10. Shari says

    This sounds like a very interesting book! I just finished “The White Masaii” (a memoir) and I’m hooked to this style of writing. Thanks for entering me!

  11. Katie M says

    I would enjoy reading this book. One book that I’ve enjoyed recently (that is not quite a memoir, but kinda…) is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”.

  12. says

    My favorite memoir is “Girl Meets God” by Lauren Winner. I can’t say enough good about that book. I also enjoyed “The Glass Castle” but it is very, very sad.

  13. Brooke says

    I go through long stretches where I LOVE memoirs. I just finished “LOOK ME IN THE EYE” – Augusten Bourroughs brothers’ memoir.

  14. says

    make me want to put the kids in the car and go to the library and stop by central market to pick up some fresh bread and some fun exotic cheese, drop the kids off at a sitter and sit by the fire and read! I’d love a copy…but more than anything I look forward to reading this book


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