All You Can Ever Know

All You Can Ever Know

A Memoir

Book - 2018
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Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post , NPR, Time , Real Simple , Bustle , 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.
Publisher: New York :, Catapult,, 2018
ISBN: 9781936787975
Characteristics: 225 pages ;,24 cm


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SPL_Shauna Nov 28, 2018

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TSCPL_Miranda Dec 02, 2018

Insightful and beautifully written. Chung is a Korean American who was adopted and raised by white parents, in a community with little racial diversity. Her story is at times heartbreaking. I cried to read about a little girl looking in the mirror and wishing that she looked like everyone else. It's also incredibly moving and hopeful, and gives a fair, compassionate portrait of the many people who are a part of her story. I would like to share my own family story someday, and I found a lot of inspiration here for how to go about it. I'm positive that this is one that I'll revisit and read again.

Dec 02, 2018

I’m sorry... I wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t. It was tedious, repetitive and longer than it needed to be. The author’s continual self-doubt was just tiresome to read.

SPL_Shauna Nov 28, 2018

Full review available under the Summary tab

ArapahoeKati Nov 12, 2018

Beautifully written and tugs at your heartstrings. A memoir about family you won't soon forget.

SCL_Leanne Aug 07, 2018

It's a memoir about cross-cultural adoption. Korean-American Chung was adopted by a white couple in 1981 and spent her life navigating the world not knowing anything about her birth family. Author, Celeste Ng, called this one a book that everyone should read. When we read Ng's Little Fires Everywhere a heavy debate about the adoption portrayed in the book ensued and this memoir would be a great choice for those who had similar debates!


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SPL_Shauna Nov 28, 2018

Many will know Nicole Chung’s writing from Buzzfeed, Hazlitt and The Toast. All You Can Ever Know is her first book, and it’s a beautiful memoir that explores the extraordinary registers of everyday life.

Born in 1981 to a Korean family in Seattle, Chung was adopted weeks later into a white family who made a life in rural Oregon. Chung was fiercely loved by her family, who felt it was their calling to have her in their lives. But, the town where they lived was overwhelmingly white; Chung encountered both subtle and forthright racism growing up, which her white family was ill-equipped to help navigate. And, as Chung grew up, she found the simplified narrative of adoption told by her family, and expected by others who asked, didn’t match the nuances of her own experience.

As Chung’s own pregnancy progresses, she feels compelled to find out more about her birth family. Where before she felt alienated by the lack of nuance with which others understood her experience as a Korean adoptee into a white family, she suddenly finds herself working to understand the dynamics driving her birth family’s own decisions. She parses this as she confronts new motherhood, attempting to understand the choice of adoption while holding an infant from whom she cannot fathom separation.

Written with clarity, empathy and passion, All You Can Ever Know tells a story many people live each day in a way most of us have never heard before. It’s highly recommended to any fans of motherhood or adoption memoirs.

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