All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

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 early 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 hopes of giving her a better life; that forever feeling slightly out of place was simply her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as she grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and 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, 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.

Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography / Longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award / Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Boston Globe, TIME, Newsday, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Real Simple, Paste Magazine, Chicago Public Library, Seattle Public Library, Goodreads, Shelf Awareness, Electric Literature, and more

Title:All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

About Nicole Chung

has written for The New York Times, the Times Magazine, GQ, Longreads, The Cut, Vulture, Slate, and Hazlitt, among others. She is the editor in chief of

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    All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir Reviews

  • Celeste Ng

    This book moved me to my very core. As 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 KNO...

  • Brandice

    All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir is Nicole Chung’s story of adoption and the search for her Korean birth family, when she becomes an expectant mother, about to start her own family. Nicole was adopte...

  • Jessica Woodbury

    When I started thinking about how I was going to describe this book, the words that came to mind were the kind of words you'd read on a bottle of water: pure, clear, undiluted. Every time I read it it...

  • Elyse Walters

    Audiobook- library overdrive -read by Janet Song Having recently listened to the audiobook of “Inheritance”, by Dani Shapiro - “All You Can Ever Know”, by Nicole Chung, is a great bookend comp...

  • R.O. Kwon

    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 da...

  • Rebecca

    Nicole Chung was born premature to Korean shopkeepers who already had two daughters. This was 1981 Seattle, and her parents felt unequal to the challenge of raising a child who might have disabilities...

  • Jessica

    I absolutely adored of Nicole Chung's account of her transracial adoption, which has been popping up on many best-of lists this month. It's legitimately one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and I w...

  • Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City

    **this review ended up being way too longer than I’d like to, but I had so much to say, so brace yourselves! when people asked me about my family, my features, the fate I’d been dealt, maybe ...

  • Canadian Reader

    The content is suitable for an essay or a magazine feature piece. There just isn’t enough here for a full-length memoir. The writing is unremarkable, often bland, frequently repetitive, and overly p...

  • Paul

    A thoughtful, if discursive, memoir about a Korean-American girl growing up and finding her birth family. It could have been written at about half the length....