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All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
Chung’s incredibly honest and eloquent search for identity captivated me. As an Asian girl in a white family, her need to belong was a powerful desire. Her parents, wanting her to be happy, shut the door to any inquiry. As she got older she sought clues of her past, ferreted out from boxes hidden away in closets and yellowed envelopes tucked in drawers. Still, the black hole her of not-knowing threatened to swallow her up. Chung’s journey to find her heritage brings to light our misguided tendencies to sweep everything under the rug. This is the book we need to start more conversations about race, family, adoptions and the way to move incrementally forward. This is your next book club pick.— From Beth's Picks
As a mother to two sons, adopted from South America and raised in overwhelmingly white Vermont, this book was truly difficult for me. Chung’s stories of growing up as the rare person of color in her predominantly white community in Oregon and the trauma that she had to work through as a result, hit a little too close to home. Her difficulties with identity and her adoption, tugged hard at my heart and my guilt. Her writing is poignant and pointed as she tells her tale of finding her birth family, exploring her own feelings about motherhood while preparing to give birth for the first time, and discovering what family means to her. In short, this book is a great memoir for anyone interested in the experiences of people of color in the USA, the experiences of adoption in the USA, and how families are formed no matter your race or birth status.
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.
About the Author
Nicole Chung has written for The New York Times, GQ, Longreads, BuzzFeed, Hazlitt, and Shondaland, among other publications. She is Catapult magazine's editor in chief and the former managing editor of The Toast. All You Can Ever Know is her first book. Foll ow her on Twitter at @nicole_soojung.
Praise for All You Can Ever Know
"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
“This book will break your heart in all the best ways. Nicole Chung's intimate exploration of motherhood, race, and identity is a beautiful personal story that also reveals something profound about our culture and country. I didn't want it to end.” —Jessica Valenti, author of Sex Object
“I’ve been waiting for this writer, and this book—and everything else she’ll write—and now it is here.” —Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
"In All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung examines her family history with rigor and grace, which is the best possible way to set about the prospect of asking questions of the people who made you. The book is lovely, and loving, and committed to honesty and exploration. It never shies away from reality. Nicole's earnestness, her great capacity for affection, her commitment to dealing justly with others, her sense of humor are all vividly present here." —Daniel Mallory Ortberg, author of The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
"An urgent, incandescent exploration of what it can mean to love, and of who gets to belong, in an increasingly divided country. Nicole Chung's powerful All You Can Ever Know is necessary reading, a dazzling light to help lead the way during these times." —R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
"Compassionate and compelling. A memoir about understanding yourself as a daughter so that you may understand yourself as a mother."—Rainbow Rowell, author of Carry On
"Nicole Chung has written a book for everyone, but the real gift is for adoptees. With her rare talent for telling a story while also telling you what it means, All You Can Ever Know is Chung at top form. This is a book not to miss and an adoption story we need. Read everything Nicole Chung writes. Start now."—Matthew Salesses, author of The Hundred-Year Flood