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. Her observations are particularly timely at a moment when life expectancy in the United States is falling ... Chung writes with aching and transcendent longing — for a past she never had; for her flawed home state; and for a more compassionate future ... With this work, Chung offers a luminous addition to the literature of loss.
Moving ... Both of her adoptive parents died within two years of each other. 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 ... Chung’s deeply personal story also highlights the shortcomings of health care in America ... Powerful.
She focuses on the tenuousness of her family's financial resources and access to health care while acknowledging the commonality of her story ... The narrative moves logically and emotionally, laying out what the reader needs even when jumping across generations ... The associations work naturally, adding the necessary historical connections or the wisdom of hindsight while also exposing the echoes and lessons lost or learned ... 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 crafts a deeply personal reckoning with our country's entrenched inequalities and an elegy for her parents ... She had intended to focus on her father's illness and death, and how it embodies America's uneven burden of healthcare inequality. For about half the book, which proceeds linearly from her upbringing in Oregon to the present, this is indeed the shape the memoir takes — and where it is at its strongest ... Chung provides a rare record of the difficulty of supporting a parent through end-of-life care ... Pain suffuses the chapters ... The last several chapters of A Living Remedy feel loose as Chung wades through grief for both her parents. At times I wished she would return to some of the argumentation that grounded the chapters about her father's experience, especially when she mentions subjects like overwork without bereavement leave. But these chapters also contain striking reflections on living with absence.
This latest memoir exhibits both a hard-won maturity and a thick-skinned resilience the other book lacked ... 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 ... Gutting yet clear-eyed ... I found this book to be incredibly difficult to read — like unable-to-breathe-at-times difficult — because of its pervasive elegiac tone, its spot-on critique of an economic system that reinforces an ever-deepening inequality in America and, of course, its pandemic-era ending.
[Chung] does excavate some hard truths, especially about transracial adoption; but I also came away from that account struck by the deep love Chung expressed for her adoptive parents ... Chung is a straightforward writer. It's not the poetic beauty of her language that distinguishes this memoir, but the accrued power of a story told in plain, direct sentences; a story that can feel overwhelmingly shameful to the adult child living through it. Because the other tale Chung is telling here is about the hiding-in-plain sight predicament of class-climbers like herself who have plenty of cultural capital, but not so much the other kind.
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 ... 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.
Melancholy ... Powerfully rendered scenes illuminate this quiet polemic against a dysfunctional healthcare system, hidden poverty, and racism, though the narrative stumbles toward the end as Chung meanders through scattered reflections. There’s great emotional power here, if an imperfect execution.
Examines and expiates the vexing circumstances of her parents' deaths ... Read in tandem with the author's first book, it underlines the strength of her connection to both her adoptive parents and the birth-family relatives she found. As Chung seeks a way to grieve without self-punishment, this open-hearted, unflinching account will be a boon to others.