cover image All You Can Ever Know

All You Can Ever Know

Nicole Chung. Catapult, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-936787-97-5

In her stunning memoir, freelance writer Chung tracks the story of her own adoption, from when she was born premature and spent months on life support to the decision, while pregnant with her first child, to search for her birth family. Growing up the only person of color in an all-white family and neighborhood in a small Oregon town five hours outside of Portland, Chung felt out of place. She kept a tally of other Asians she saw but could go years without seeing anyone she didn’t recognize. She knew very little about her birth parents—only the same story she was told again and again by her adoptive parents: “Your birth parents had just moved here from Korea. They thought they wouldn’t be able to give you the life you deserved.” Decades later, Chung, with the help of a “search angel,” an intermediary who helps unite adoptive families, decided to track them down, hoping to at least get her family medical history, but what she found was a story far more complicated than she imagined. Chung’s writing is vibrant and provocative as she explores her complicated feelings about her transracial adoption (which she “loved and hated in equal measure”) and the importance of knowing where one comes from. (Oct.)