Nicole Chung with Kalani Kapahua — 'A Living Remedy: A Memoir'

From the bestselling author of All You Can Ever Know comes a searing memoir of class, inequality, 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.


Third Place Books is thrilled to welcome back Nicole Chung to our Lake Forest Park store! Chung will be discussing her new memoir, A Living Remedy, which 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 tragic inequalities in American society. She will be joined in conversation by Kalani Kapahua, Manager of our Ravenna neighborhood store. This event is free and open to the public.

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About A Living Remedy. . .

In this country, unless you attain extraordinary wealth, you will likely be unable to help your loved ones in all the ways you’d once 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.

When Nicole Chung graduated from high school, she 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 and no longer the only Korean she knew, she found a sense of community she had always craved as an Asian American adoptee—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 and college funds—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 and there are no safety nets. When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by the kidney disease that took the life of his mother before him, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of financial instability and lack of access to health care contributed to his premature 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 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 tragic inequalities in American society. 


Praise for A Living Remedy. . .

"An intimate account of losing her two parents, author Nicole Chung has once again shared the most challenging hardships of her life in a masterfully written memoir that will forever stay with you. While A Living Remedy is a deeply personal story of love and family, striking observations about race, class, the American healthcare system, and grieving in the time of COVID, make this book a timely and important read."
—Kalani Kapahua, Third Place Books 

"Nicole Chung's second memoir deals with how her blue collar, middle class background failed both her parents during the pandemic and herself after their deaths. With her sharp wit she paints her anger, sorry, and grief over how the US healthcare system failed first her father, and then her mother, in this intense breakdown of health, grief, and rage. **read with tissues"
—Alex, Third Place Books

“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

"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

Nicole Chung is the author of the national bestseller All You Can Ever Know, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a semifinalist for the PEN Open Book Award, and an Indies Choice Honor Book. She is currently a contributing writer at the Atlantic, and her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, GQ, Time, the Guardian, and Slate. Nicole lives in the Washington, DC, area with her family.

Kalani Kapahua is a bookseller from Seattle. He studied creative writing at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute. He currently works as the Store Manager of Third Place Books Ravenna. He was previously a featured playwright at the American Repertory Theater's Annual Young Playwright's Festival and has held roles with the Washington State Book Awards, Seattle City of Literature, and the Seattle Public Library Literature and Humanities Community Advisory Group. He is a contributing reviewer at The International Examiner. He is a Korean American adoptee.

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