A Living Remedy: A Memoir (Hardcover)
A Most Anticipated Book of 2023 from: Dallas Morning News * Today.com * Good Housekeeping * Time * The Rumpus * The Week * Salon * Seattle Times * Electric Literature * Bookpage * The Millions * Elle.com * Washington Post * Book Riot * Lit Hub * NPR's Here & Now * Ms. Magazine * Town & Country * New York Times * USA Today
From the bestselling author of ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW comes a searing memoir of family, class and grief—a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost.
In this country, unless you attain extraordinary wealth, you will likely be unable to help your loved ones in all the ways you’d hoped. You will learn to live with the specific, hollow guilt of those who leave hardship behind, yet are unable to bring anyone else with them.
Nicole Chung couldn’t hightail it out of her overwhelmingly white Oregon hometown fast enough. As a scholarship student at a private university on the East Coast, no longer the only Korean she knew, she found community and a path to the life she'd long wanted. But the middle class world she begins to raise a family in – where there are big homes, college funds, nice vacations – looks very different from the middle class world she thought she grew up in, where paychecks have to stretch to the end of the week, health insurance is often lacking, and there are no safety nets.
When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by diabetes and kidney disease, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of precarity and lack of access to healthcare contributed to his early death. And then the unthinkable happens – less than a year later, her beloved mother is diagnosed with cancer, and the physical distance between them becomes insurmountable as COVID-19 descends upon the world.
Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, A Living Remedy examines what it takes to reconcile the distance between one life, one home, and another – and sheds needed light on some of the most persistent and grievous inequalities in American society.
About the Author
Nicole Chung is the author of the national bestseller All You Can Ever Know. Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, the Washington Post, Time, and many other outlets, All You Can Ever Know was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a semifinalist for the PEN Open Book Award, an Indies Choice Honor Book, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Chung's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Time, GQ, Slate, and the Guardian. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in the Washington, DC, area.
“Like the best memoirs, Nicole Chung's A Living Remedy is both an excavation of the self and the people who sustain it--but also, at its core, a work of art undergirded by a tender, forgiving, and awe-filled gaze at what it means to live and hurt in the human world. The result is a bone-deep enactment of love in all its valences.” — Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
“This riveting and tender memoir is a stunning meditation on grief and guilt, driven by the ways in which the U.S. healthcare system, one of the highest costs of healthcare in the world, fails those that cannot afford it. Detailing her father's inability to access healthcare and his premature death, Chung illuminates the hardships many Americans face caring for aging parents and loved ones in a broken system.” — Lupita Aquino, Today.com
"A Living Remedy is a bouquet of feeling—Nicole Chung weaves a groundbreaking narrative steeped in love, humor, the infinitude of memory, and the essentiality of community. Chung approaches the kaleidoscope of grief from its many angles, excavating its complexity with heart and candor; but Chung's prose also soothes, uncovering hidden corners of the heart and its many permutations. A Living Remedy is elegiac and heart-expanding, a memoir that's both an exploration of loss and a beacon for moving forward. We couldn't be luckier to have this gift of a book." — Bryan Washington, author of Memorial
"This astounding and immensely moving memoir is a gift. It is a chance to think about family, mortality, love, and grief. It is a chance to confront the broken healthcare system we live within. From the most intimate to the most public, A Living Remedy holds gem-like questions about all that matters." — Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning
"A story about American inequality, but it’s also about a grieving daughter attempting to make sense of her own beginnings in order to heal." — Time
"A Living Remedy is a book about love, loss, leaving home, and finding home. Nicole Chung has a rare precious gift: the ability to tell an intimate story with vast social implications. A Living Remedy is a book that honors the way families are made through a collage of close encounters and shared struggles. Brimming with insight about class, race, identity, and politics, it will move and transform readers with its beauty, spirituality, and wisdom." — Imani Perry, author of South to America
"An unforgettable, transformative read. Nicole Chung shows the deep pits of grief and the messy reality of life after loss, revealing pain, financial insecurity, and the failures of our country’s healthcare system with tender lucidity. This is a profound memoir that haunted and nourished me. I cried. I ached. I saw a path forward." — Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
"A Living Remedy is a profoundly moving account of one daughter’s love for her white adoptive parents and a damning indictment of the health-care system that failed them. Nicole Chung writes with nuance and empathy about what it means to be ill and economically insecure in America today. She transforms her rage and anguish into luminous prose on the page, and the result is one of the most devastating portraits of a daughter’s grief I have ever read." — Julie Otsuka, author of The Swimmers
“In this beautiful and thought-provoking memoir, Chung explores great depths of grief and rage as she takes a hard look at the pervasive inequality in American society and what community really means.” — Good Housekeeping
“This open-hearted, unflinching account will be a boon to others.” — Kirkus Reviews
"[A] delicate, painful, magnificent book." — Elle
“On one level, Nicole Chung's second memoir is an elegy for her adoptive parents. On another, it's an indictment of the broken healthcare systems that prevent a disappearing middle class from receiving the affordable care they desperately need.” — Harper's Bazaar
"[A Living Remedy] stands to spark a major and essential conversation ... Chung excels at excavating both the personal and the systemic." — Literary Hub
“One of this generation’s great chroniclers of family, both adoptive and biological: its limits and possibilities, what it means, how it shapes us." — The Millions
“A tender personal story with powerful social and political ramifications.” — BookPage
“[A] devastating, radiant memoir.” — R. O. Kwon, Electric Literature
"Powerfully rendered scenes illuminate this quiet polemic against a dysfunctional healthcare system, hidden poverty, and racism...There’s great emotional power here." — Publishers Weekly
“Chung applies the same incisive intimacy with which she explored her reconnection with her birth family in her first book to examine her profound relationships with her white adoptive parents...Chung’s prose hones her grief into razor-sharp insights even as her words interrogate, honor, and celebrate the unbreakable bonds of parenthood.” — Booklist (starred review)
“[Chung’s] second memoir...focuses on her search to understand the lives of her adoptive parents after her father dies at age 67 and her mother is diagnosed with cancer a year later...There's no doubt you can feel her whole heart as you read.” — Town & Country
“In her second memoir, Chung looks at the politics of class, race and home. Chung, who was adopted, grew up in a mostly white community on the West Coast, and didn’t realize until she left home how economically vulnerable her family was. As she established a career, she grappled with guilt about having surpassed her parents, and years later, she sees how economic inequality has profound consequences for the end of life — even though death is called an equalizing force.” — New York Times (“19 Works of Nonfiction to Read This Spring”)