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All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
By Nicole Chung
(Catapult)

Nicole Chung was born severely premature to Korean immigrants who put her up for adoption after their doctor warned the baby would struggle her whole life. Growing up, this is all Chung knew about her origins. But when she became pregnant with her first child, Chung began a search for her birth family that led to her learning the difficult truth about her birth mother; developing a close relationship with her biological sister; and reconnecting with her heritage.

Chung’s memoir is full of nuance. It’s clear she loves her white adoptive parents, yet she is also open about the pain of growing up in a town so white that she “kept a secret running tally of every single Asian person I had ever seen in public.” Through her story, Chung shows that adoption—particularly trans-racial adoption—doesn’t fit into a trite, simple narrative. And the lyricism of her language makes that story a pleasure to read. “I could envision hundreds of gossamer-thin threads of history and love, curiosity and memory, built up slowly across the time and space between us,” she writes. “A web of connections too delicate to be seen or touched, too strong to be completely severed.” (5/5) 

By Erika W. Smith
All You Can Ever Know is out October 2, 2018.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2018  print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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