All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know

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 he...

Details All You Can Ever Know

TitleAll You Can Ever Know
Release DateOct 2nd, 2018
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parenting, Adoption, Biography, Biography Memoir

Reviews All You Can Ever Know

  • 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 was like turning on a faucet of raw emotion, a view into the author's experience that was like looking through freshly-cleaned glass. Forgive me if I'm getting pulled into mixed metaphors, but when I tried to explain it these were the kinds of image...
  • 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 dazzling light to help lead the way during these times.
  • Monica Kim
    **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 it isn’t surprising how I answered — first in a childish, cheerful chirrup, later in the lecturing tone of one obliged to educate. I arrive to be calm and direct, never giving anything away in my voice, never changing the details. Offering the st...
  • 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. They offered their baby up for adoption, and she was raised by white parents in Portland, Oregon. The whole time she was growing up, Chung felt like the only Asian around, and she experienced childhood bullying. Only when she visited the Seattle Ch...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Nicole Chung shares her story of growing up as a transracial adoptee in a small Oregon town where she was often the only person of color. I heard some of her story on the NPR Code Switch podcast (recommended), but didn't know what happened after she looked into her birth parents. She navigates the questions of adoption, parenthood, family, and identity with nuance.If you are a person that likes to read similar themes across fiction and memoir, th...
  • Jessica
    This was one of the best memoirs I have ever read. I have lots of thoughts I need to distill, but more to come.
  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    I'm not usually big on memoirs but when presented with this copy to review, I couldn't say no. A beautifully poignant and emotionally filled memoir of a Korean girl adopted by white parents and facing racism and prejudice no one around her could understand. This journey of her finding her way and wanting to know about her biological family and the story behind it is moving and oh so real.I felt so much empathy when reading about Nicole's childhoo...
  • Lupita Reads
    Five stars five stars! Because I can’t wait to read this!!!!!
  • Dan Friedman
    Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know is a beautifully rendered memoir of family construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction. Viewed through a wide-angle lens, Chung challenges her readers to ponder the limits of biological determinism and free will. Viewed through a narrow-angle lens, Chung challenges her readers to consider trans-racial adoptions and reunification with biological families. No, not consider trans-racial adoption and reunif...
  • 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.
  • Vanessa Hua
    Powerful, deeply affecting memoir about love, longing, belonging, and family. An unforgettable debut.
  • Mike
    I knew this book was going to be great, but I did not expect that it would make me cry quite so quickly. (For the record, the first tears came on page 16.) What an amazingly honest, open, full-hearted story Nicole Chung has given us about adoption, about heritage, about self-understanding, about family, and how families are both made and inherited. I’m just so happy this book exists.
  • Joy
    "'s always a welcome relief to find myself in the company of other adopted people, because only we can understand what it means to grow up adopted."I loved this memoir, for its lovely writing, for its moving story, but most of all, because I could nod along in recognition at so much of it, even though Nicole Chung's story differs so much from my own. Those moments of recognition in literature are so rare for transracial adoptees, that when I...
  • Robert Blumenthal
    This is a timely and well-written memoir that addresses the issues around mixed race adoptions. Nicole Chung, a Korean American, was adopted as a premature baby by a loving and religious couple in Seattle. They moved to Southern Oregon where she was brought up. Throughout her childhood, she was teased at her all white Catholic school, and she was never given the opportunity to explore her birth family's heritage. When she becomes pregnant herself...
  • Christina Grace
    Greatest book ever written by one of the greatest living writers
  • Jason Diamond
    I think the point of a memoir is to not only tell an interesting story all the way through but to also teach the reader something. Lots of memoirs are filled with pages meant to do just that: fill the pages. Memoirs get a bad rep because people think they can write them, but they can't. The truth is that everybody has an interesting story they can share with the world and that readers will benefit from, but not many can fill up a hundred or two p...
  • Michele
    The suspense in this memoir makes it compulsively readable; it comes from the question of whether the author will search for her birthparents, and if so, whether she finds them. This plot is further complicated by an unexpected revelation that moves the story forward in a spot where it might otherwise hit a lull. And throughout the book, Chung demonstrates an exceptional emotional intelligence about her own feelings and the feelings of others, in...
  • Karen Ng
    Moved me to tears so many times. As an Asian that raised three kids in a predominantly white town. I understand a bit of racism and how difficult it was for my children to find their own identitly, but this book, and her prose, are unique. Brutally honest, yet heart breaking at times.A must- read. She writes eloquently and beautifully. I put her memoir at the same par as The Glass Castle and When Breath Becomes Air.
  • Emily
    There's a lot of ink spilled in the lit-o-sphere over the courage it takes to tell your personal story, so much that it's a kind of cliche. Too bad! I'm going to say it: This story is brave. ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW is a courageous, beautiful book that deserves all the accolades it's going to get. If you've encountered Nicole Chung's writing before, then you know what to expect. If you haven't read one of her essays before, you're in for a treat: Cl...
  • Sachi Argabright
    I know I keep saying this about the Asian American debuts I have read this year, but I LOVED this book!! Similar to Julayne Lee’s Not My White Savior, this book taught me so much about Korean adoption and the complex family dynamics in creates. I absolutely loved Nicole’s beautiful writing style, and flew through her story in a matter of days. With a balance of moments that will make you cry and also warm your heart, this book is something yo...
  • Jessica
    Such a poignant and moving book, told in such a way that you'll end every page and stop to think about the way you view yourself, and others, and consider the way you live your life. Identity is something we all struggle with in one way or another and to read such an insightful story as Nicole Chung's is eye-opening and relatable. It's beautifully written and a story that needs to be heard.I'm looking forward to writing a full review of this book...
  • Julie
    Edited: Consistently bowled over throughout this read by the empathy and grace with which it treated each of these real life people who make up its story. Memoirs rarely nail this with such balance, and I sincerely appreciated it. Brought me to tears twice, both moments when someone was surprised to realize how much they needed something. Vivid, softly told, poignant, darkly funny in places, so grateful this book exists, an unforgettable read.
  • Angel
    Review to come--but this is an incredible book, and you should definitely pre-order it now.
  • ak
    I’m biased but this book is amazing and heartful and I loved reading it.
  • Simone
    I'm not 100% sure what "a tour de force" means, but I feel like that it makes sense for this book. I didn't know much about Nicole Chung's life other than that she's the editor-in-chief of Catapult's online literary magazine and she's an amazing writer. I knew she was Korean, but the rest of her life was a complete mystery.So going into this novel, I didn't think it would be the story of a young woman trying to find her birth parents. I didn't kn...
  • andy
    It touched my heart.
  • Christine
    ~review with slight spoilers and my personal experiences~Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know is a revelation.I signed up for a trial of Audible, and this book was my very first choice. It took me a little under two days to finish it, which is insane because I’m not exactly good with listening to audiobooks.Maybe this book is an outlier, because it is riveting.I’m not an adoptee, but as an adult half-Korean dealing with estranged relations ...
  • Sarah
    3.5 rounded upA strong memoir about being adopted and how it feels to meet one's birth family later in life. Chung's discussion of identity and what family means was moving and memorable - if you enjoy memoirs this one is definitely worth checking out.
  • Genevieve
    I was so moved by the candor and compassion Chung had when sharing this painful and very personal story of the search for her biological family. It was beautifully written and the insights on motherhood, race and family were spot on.