About Jenny Heijun Wills

Jenny is the author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir. It won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Non-Fiction. Her book was also named as one of the Globe & Mail’s “100 Books that Shaped 2019,” the CBC’s “Best Canadian Non-Fiction of 2019,” and Adoptee Readings’ “100 Adoptee-Authored Books from the Decade.” She teaches writing and critical race studies in literature. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

Visit Jenny’s website.

Contact Jenny. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

From the publisher

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught.

Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole.

Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women–sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces–Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child’s removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.


Finely observed, meticulous, and candid, this memoir offers its subjects no easy redemptions, only the chance to grow together towards greater understanding. Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. captures Canada at its richest, deeply rooted in home while also very much part of the world.”

2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury

“Reflecting on that which families, in various incarnations, might owe to each other, Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related forges and mourns familial bonds in necessarily relatable and devastatingly exceptional ways.”

Nyala Ali, Winnipeg Free Press

“One of the most courageous, moving and achingly beautiful memoirs I’ve ever read. Jenny Heijun Wills brings uniquely to voice the complex emotional landscapes of transnational adoption. Her book represents an urgent and wide-reaching social question in the most luminously intimate terms.”

David Chariandy, author of Brother