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Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung @nicole_soojung @CatapultStory

All You Can Ever Know
by Nicole Chung

Thanks to Catapult for this review copy!
A memoir about a Korean woman adopted by a white family and her journey to learn about her culture.

Publisher:  Catapult
Publish date: October 2, 2018
240 Pages
Genres:  Memoir, Non-fiction

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.

My Review:

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 childhood and, while we all know children can be mean, when you don't understand them pulling their eyes back and telling you that you don't belong... well that I absolutely can understand.  Being half Korean, I remember these kinds of things happening to me and running home and crying to my dad about it.  I was so excited to go to Korea where I would finally belong, only to be made fun of for being half white.  At least I had my parents to speak to.. even if they could never fully understand.   Nicole didn't have a cultural background to help her understand why she was "different".  While Korean on the outside, she felt white because that's the only culture she knew.

I absolutely applaud the courage it took for her to reach out and find her biological family.  I can't imagine what it's like to be adopted and this story truly opens up your eyes as you ride the roller coaster of emotions with her.  

I think we have all had a moment in our lives where we struggled to figure out where we belonged in this world.  And if nothing else resonates with you, this surely will.  Chung's first novel is definitely one to pick up.  There's no if you liked that, you'll like this... because I think memoirs are what they are - individually based and incomparable to anything else around them.  I definitely felt a connection with this book and isn't that one of the things we look for when reading a novel?


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