All You Can Ever Know

Nicole Chung
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection An Official Junior Library Guild Selection An ABA Indies Introduce Selection "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 "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 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.


Reviewed: 2019-03-28

Ugh.....I'd almost finishing writing this review and then my computer flaked, so I'm starting over.  My original review was likely much better than this version.

When I started this book, I couldn't put it down.  However, the second half of the book was a bit of a plod for me.   I think that is because the first half of the book was focused on Ms. Chung's adoption, youth & search for her birth family, while the second half was focused on the emotional outcome of finding her birth family.  Maybe I was just distracted since I read this during the week I turned 50 & almost lost my job?  Very possible/likely.....

I think Ms. Chung was very honest & thoughtful while telling her story and I appreciated her openness.  Ms. Chung provided insights on being adopted that were new to me and I always appreciate learning something new.  I also thought that Cindy was particularly brave/strong to allow her story to be told, especially since she is a private person.  Her journey was so awful and to allow her sister to document it had to be very painful.

I wonder how Ms. Chung's birth parents felt reading this book, particularly her birth mother.  I also wonder if Ms. Chung's oldest sister, Jessica, feels hurt or angry that she is not part of the unique family that Ms. Chung and Cindy have created.  I can't imagine she doesn't feel leftout & resentful.

I also appreciated that Ms. Chung didn't try to cover-up her adopted parents short-comings.  They did their best and she acknowledges this.  However, her adopted parents could have done a few things differently, which would likely have made Ms. Chung's journey less painful.  I think anyone considering adoption could learn a lot from these parts of the book, which could help them with their own adopted childs path.

I'm conflicted about if I would recommend this book.....I agree that anyone that has been adopted or is adopting should read it, as it provides unique insights into how an adopted child views the world.  However, I much preferred "Heavy" and "Hunger" to this memoir..... 

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