A Living Remedy: A Memoir (Hardcover)

A Living Remedy: A Memoir By Nicole Chung Cover Image

A Living Remedy: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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“A heartbreaking, yet deeply loving memoir about the complexities of healthcare inequality. Chung draws on her experiences in her white adoptive family to understand how inequalities perpetuate distance and divisiveness.”
— Erin Pastore, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, NH

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

Named a Best Book of the Year by: Time * Harper’s Bazaar * Esquire * Booklist * USA Today * Elle * Good Housekeeping * New York Times * Electric Literature

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. 

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 PostTime, 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.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063031616
ISBN-10: 0063031612
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: April 4th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English

“A transcendent memoir about family, class, and the contours of loss. . . . In her clear, concise prose, Chung makes the personal political, tackling everything from America’s crushingly unjust health care system to the country’s gauzy assumptions about adoption, a practice that is itself rooted in economic inequality. . . . With this work, Chung offers a luminous addition to the literature of loss, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Notes on Grief to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Absorbing, spare and sometimes terrifyingly close to the abyss, A Living Remedy shows us the power of resilience.” — New York Times Book Review (“Editors’ Choice”)

“Chung has knocked it out of the park with her second book, detailing how she coped with the deaths of her adoptive parents before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.” — Bethanne Patrick, LA Times 

“In this intimate memoir, she explores this difficult emotional terrain while also delivering a powerful social commentary that poses vital questions on access to medical care and the meaning of home and family.” — Washington Post

“A powerful testament to the failures of our health-care system and to the limits of what most of us can do for those we love.” — Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

"[Chung is] a seasoned writer tackling one of the most complicated and devastating collective traumas in recent history: death during the COVID era. What makes A Living Remedy so compelling is Chung’s ability to merge the political with the deeply personal in a narrative that’s consistently relatable.... The time I spent with A Living Remedy was ultimately, undoubtedly rewarding and something I’m sure I’ll revisit again. It’s a testament to Chung’s talent that she can bravely and honestly put into words what I and so many others can’t." — San Francisco Chronicle

“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

"Chung crafts a deeply personal reckoning with our country's entrenched inequalities and an elegy for her parents ... [and] provides a rare record of the difficulty of supporting a parent through end-of-life care….[A LIVING REMEDY] provides a powerful remembrance and a path forward." — NPR.org

"[A] luminous memoir . . .  [Chung] explores the heartbreaking complexities of loss and the enduring power of love. Chung eloquently outlines not just the devastating effects of grief, but also the ways in which her loss was exacerbated by structural shortcomings, including the serious limitations of the U.S. health care system and the injustice of economic inequality. Despite the sobering subject matter, Chung—who chronicled the challenges of her transracial adoption in her first memoir All You Can Ever Know with deep empathy—channels the same care and compassion in her latest work."  — Cady Lang, Time

“Chung candidly brings readers into her life like they are old friends. There is an ease in her manner of storytelling, and because of that there is joy in each familial connection and a great deal of pain when things go awry. Chung shares her experiences as individually hers and yet representative of so many others in a country where secure jobs, health care and an underlying sense of belonging are so difficult to maintain.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A Living Remedy is most powerful when Chung frames the story of her parents’ deaths as an unnecessary tragedy brought on by the broken health care system in this country." — Associated Press

“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 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 fiery book combines a chronicle of the grief of losing one’s parents and a searing indictment of the unequal health care system that led to their early deaths.” — People

“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”)

"As Chung immerses readers in her experience of grief, her powerful words compel us to follow her on a beautiful but difficult journey of loss....A Living Remedy makes this era of collective grief more personal, as Chung honestly explores her childhood and the lives and deaths of her parents. She gives these hard times a purpose, absorbing them with both fury and compassion, making them part of her own legacy to pass along to her daughters. For her, this is indeed a living remedy." — BookPage (starred review)

"Chung’s gorgeous memoir takes on one of the most unacceptable situations in this country: the lack of affordable healthcare. Compounding that, of course, is the extreme income and wealth inequality of this 'first-world country.' In these pages, Chung writes deeply and honestly about the death of her father and the struggle of dealing with her mother’s cancer diagnosis as the COVID-19 pandemic begins." — Alta

"A heartrending, poignant memoir that serves as not only a worthy follow-up to All You Can Ever Know but also as a beacon of hope and recognition for readers who find themselves (or their loved ones) suffering similar circumstances.... Beautifully written in her telltale lyrical style, A Living Remedy is an unforgettable read." — Shondaland

"Reading Nicole Chung’s second memoir, A Living Remedy, feels like having an honest conversation with a wise, trusted friend about how to keep living through grief…I wasn’t surprised to find so much of her characteristic heart on the page." — LitHub

"Nicole Chung returns with a memoir about family, loss, and love…[she] writes with empathy and righteous rage about the most painful of subjects." — Bustle

"[A] tenderly crafted, powerfully deployed memoir overflowing with heart and humor." — Electric Literature

"This elegant, fearless, aching memoir is a balm for all who grieve in this complicated time, joining Joan Didion in the pantheon of the literature of loss." — Toronto Star

"Beautifully written, A Living Remedy faces loss in all its heartrending shades, but mingling in every dark moment is the light and love of family and the unquenchable faith of her parents." — Shelf Awareness

"Chung writes with incredible grace and tenderness about grief, class, health care inequality, and familial separation during COVID…She also has an incredible gift for connection and for illuminating not only her experiences, but how those experiences are a part of a larger, devastating story about America…a must-read book." — Book Riot

“Searing . . . a poignant book that’s sure to resonate widely.” — Parade

"[A] visceral and wrenching memoir."  — Esquire

"Chung channels her fury into writing this book, and by doing so, extends a loving hand—and heart—to those of us reeling from loss, especially when that loss is compounded by systemic inequality."  — StyleCaster

"This narrative investigates grief and unequal access to health care as much as it does the love that makes a family whole.” — Boston Globe

"This fiery book combines a chronicle of the grief of losing one's parents and a searing indictment of the unequal health care system that led to their early deaths." — People