Coming April 21, 2020 from unnamed Press

Pre-oder your copy here.

“What We Inherit is a strikingly original debut, a moving saga of love and grief that shows how world events reshaped three generations of one American family.”

―Kate Bolick, bestselling author of Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

"A beautiful amalgam of memoir, travelogue, and investigative report that moves with the propulsive forward energy of a thriller. What We Inherit is a haunting chronicle of loss and redemption and an irresistibly good read. You won't be able to put it down."

—Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Washington: A Life and Alexander Hamilton

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"I devoured this book in one breathless gulp. A seamless blend of love, loss and legacy, this utterly gripping account of one woman's search to uncover a family mystery in the wake of her mother's death is at once heartbreaking and gorgeously hopeful. This is exactly the kind of compulsively-readable memoir I'm always hoping to find, but so rarely do."

―Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance



On March 29, 1972, a 24-year-old American soldier disappeared when his plane was shot down over the mountains bordering Vietnam during the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos. His body was found 36 years later, identified by blood drawn from his sister as she was dying of breast cancer.

That missing boy was my uncle – and his sister my mother. It was only after her death that I uncovered boxes of letters, declassified CIA documents, and newspaper interviews chronicling my family’s four-decade search to bring my uncle Jack home. These inherited records of loss became a road map through my own grief, leading me to recreate a trip my grandfather took to Southeast Asia in 1973 in search of his son. What I find in the remote jungle brings me closer to my grandfather, my missing uncle, and the mother I have lost.

Alternating between present-day Thailand and Laos and my grandfather's David and Goliath battle with the government in the '70s and '80s, What We Inherit melds memoir with travelogue to tell a multi-generational story of hope and loss. 

“Recounting her family’s heart-wrenching search for an uncle who was shot down during the secret bombing of Laos, Jessica Pearce Rotondi’s What We Inherit is a triumph of investigative family history. A skillful and lyrical retelling of a mystery discovered largely upon her mother's death, this book is a reminder of how the suffering that remains after war, a secret war all the more so, can haunt us for generations.”

―Joel Whitney, author of Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers and a founder of Guernica

"This fascinating memoir is at once about a moment in American history and the particular logics of grief. Jessica Pearce Rotondi begins, on the page and in striking prose, to unfurl the grief she feels at her mother’s death. Reading this book, I learned about the after-effects of war, and about the power of grace. I learned about hope, and its transformation into peace. What We Inherit is a powerful book about how we make sense of unfathomable loss - and about the realization that all loss is unfathomable. In our current world, with so much war and pain, this is the book we need."

―Eva Hagberg Fisher, author of How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Life-Saving Friendship

 Contact Jessica





Allison Hunter

Janklow & Nesbit Associates


Olivia Taylor Smith

Unnamed Press