Review: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Author Nichole Chung never really felt she fit in. Born to two Korean parents in 1981, Chung was adopted by a white couple and raised in a small Oregon town where she was the only Korean person she knew. Chung did well in school and was doted on by her family, but continually faced prejudice and barriers her adoptive parents didn’t see. “I struggled to feel I belonged in my own life,” Chung explained.

In her debut memoir “All You Can Ever Know,” out Oct. 2nd from Catapult, Chung writes eloquently about her experience growing up adopted, and her journey to connect with her birth family as an adult. Since her adoption was closed, Chung knew very little about her birth family other than the well-worn positive story told to her by her adoptive parents. Her birth family struggled financially, she knew. They were unable to pay the medical bills that amassed when she was born severely premature. But they had two other daughters. Did her sisters know about her? Chung wondered. Did they ever think about her?

When Chung was preparing to give birth herself for the first time, she reached out to her birth family through an intermediary, hoping for a medical history – and some answers. What she found was far more complicated than she could have imagined: a story of family secretes and abuse, but also an outpouring of love and connection from an unlikely place.

Composed in short, suspenseful chapters that move between Chung’s perspective and the point of view of her biological sister, Cindy, Chung writes with all the candor and grace of a beloved big sister, telling you like it is. “All You Can Ever Know” is a moving memoir about our universal desire to connect and belong, written by a brave new voice.