Episode #11: "Art Out Of Chaos"
with Nicole Chung and Taylor Harris

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On this episode, we're excited to bring you Nicole Chung in conversation with Taylor Harris

Nicole Chung is an editor, essayist, and the National Bestselling author of All You Can Ever Know, which was named a Best Book of the Year by nearly two dozen outlets, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, and was long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award. 

 

Taylor Harris' work has appeared in TIME, O Quarterly, The Washington Post, Longreads, and The Cut, to name a few, and her memoir This Boy We Made, was one of the Indie Next List's picks for January 2022.

 

These good friends delve into their approach to creative non-fiction, the emotional layers of parenting, and the mental health benefits of puppies and cheeseburgers.

Read Along!

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This beloved memoir "is an extraordinary, honest, nuanced and compassionate look at adoption, race in America and families in general" (Jasmine Guillory, Code Switch, NPR)

What does it means 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 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 hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as 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, Nicole 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.

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A Black mother bumps up against the limits of everything she thought she believed—about science and medicine, about motherhood, and about her faith—in search of the truth about her son.

One morning, Tophs, Taylor Harris’s round-cheeked, lively twenty-two-month-old, wakes up listless, only lifting his head to gulp down water. She rushes Tophs to the doctor, ignoring the part of herself, trained by years of therapy for generalized anxiety disorder, that tries to whisper that she’s overreacting. But at the hospital, her maternal instincts are confirmed: something is wrong with her boy, and Taylor’s life will never be the same.

With every question the doctors answer about Tophs’s increasingly troubling symptoms, more arise, and Taylor dives into the search for a diagnosis. She spends countless hours trying to navigate health and education systems that can be hostile to Black mothers and children; at night she googles, prays, and interrogates her every action.
 
Some days, her sweet, charismatic boy seems just fine; others, he struggles to answer simple questions. A long-awaited appointment with a geneticist ultimately reveals nothing about what’s causing Tophs’s drops in blood sugar, his processing delays—but it does reveal something unexpected about Taylor’s own health. What if her son’s challenges have saved her life?
 
This Boy We Made is a stirring and radiantly written examination of the bond between mother and child, full of hard-won insights about fighting for and finding meaning when nothing goes as expected.

We are proudly supported by:

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Desert Island Bookshelf

This episode's Independent Bookseller shout-out goes to:

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The Book Club

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