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Publisher Description


Long-listed for PEN Open Book Award

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

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.

Biographies & Memoirs
October 2
Perseus Books, LLC

Customer Reviews

Jack L H ,

All You Can Ever Know

Reading this book made me think about adoption in entirely new ways. I have first cousins who were adopted but I didn’t give that much thought in the 1950s. Then I remembered a Korean girl I had in my class around 1990. As a teacher I just saw her as another student. Her American mother said they had taken a tour of duty in Korea just so they could adopt Jennifer. Her mother gave her opportunities to learn about her Korean heritage but Jennifer more or less denied her culture and refused to learn more. Now I have a great niece adopted from Thailand in 2000 whose mother has always celebrated her daughter’s heritage with other foreign born adoptees through music and cultural exchanges. Then I thought of friends who had given up children for adoptions, of others who had adopted children pop up out of the blue looking to reconnect with their birth families, and birth mothers finding and meeting the child they gave up years ago. Finally, I realized that adoption doesn’t just affect the person who was adopted but reaches many others in their wake.

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