Synopses & Reviews
Long-listed for PEN Open Book Award
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Buzzfeed, Jezebel, Bustle, Library Journal, Chicago Public Library, and more
"This book moved me to my very core.... All You Can Ever Know] should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family ― which is to say, everyone." —Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
What does it mean to lose your roots — within your culture, within your family--and what happens when you find them?
Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up — facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn't see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from — she wondered if the story she'd been told was the whole truth.
With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets — vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.
"This touching memoir explores issues of identity, racism, motherhood, and sisterhood with eloquence and grace. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[A] stunning memoir....Chung's writing is vibrant and provocative as she explores her complicated feelings about her transracial adoption and the importance of knowing where one comes from." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Highly compelling....A profound, searching memoir about 'finding the courage to question what I'd always been told.'"Kirkus Reviews
"Adoption is neither an incident nor a process ― it is an evergreen story of lives growing and resisting simple definitions. Chung's All You Can Ever Know takes the grammar of adoption ― nouns, verbs, and direct object ― and with extraordinary integrity remakes them into a narrative about what it means to be a subject. A primary document of witness, Chung writes her memoir as a transracial adoptee with honesty, wisdom, and love. Her search and what she discovers offer us life's meaning and purpose of the very highest order." Min Jin Lee, author of Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko
"This book moved me to my very core. As in all her writing, Nicole Chung speaks eloquently and honestly about her own personal story, then widens her aperture to illuminate all of us. All You Can Ever Know is full of insights on race, motherhood, and family of all kinds, but what sets it apart is the compassion Chung brings to every facet of her search for identity and every person portrayed in these pages. This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family ― which is to say, everyone." Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
About the Author
Nicole Chung is the author of the nationally bestselling memoir All You Can Ever Know. Named a Best Book of the Year by two dozen publications, All You Can Ever Know was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a semifinalist for the PEN Open Book Award, an Indies Choice Honor Book, and an official Junior Library Guild Adult Crossover Selection.
Chung's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, GQ, TIME, Longreads, and Vulture, among others, and she also writes a weekly Care and Feeding advice column for Slate. She is the editor-in-chief of the National Magazine Award-winning Catapult magazine and the former managing editor of The Toast.
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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year we’re fortunate to be partnering again with our friends at APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) to share a curated reading list...