Formulary Book Club: The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

Jacquelyn Covington, Project Manager at the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, has our May ’23 book recommendation

Story by Jacquelyn Covington | Published May 23, 2023

Jacquelyn Quinn holds up a book, "The Many Daughters of Afong Moy" next to a bookshelf

Each month, the Formulary Book Club introduces a staff, student, faculty, or alumni of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and gets their recommendation for a great read.

This month we meet Jacquelyn Covington, Project Manager with the Eshelman Institute for Innovation. Jacquelyn’s Formulary Book Club recommendation is The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford.

Cover of the book The Many Daughters of Afong MoyThe story is a fictionalized account of the life of Afong Moy, a real woman who was taken from China and brought to America in the 1830s, where she was placed onstage as an exhibition labeled as “The Chinese Lady.” While the real Afong Moy had a mysterious disappearance in the 1850s, this book takes the reader through a fascinating exploration of inherited trauma through the shared experiences of the fictionalized generations of women descended from Afong Moy, ranging from pre-Civil War to the near future time periods. Each woman descended from Afong can feel something, emotions from a past that she has never experienced and that can’t be explained, feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and despair. Weaving stories through time and space, Ford explores how we can inherit much more from our ancestors than just their eye color or dimples; we can inherit their pain.

“I love a book that can entertain and teach at the same time,” says Jacquelyn. “This historical fiction (with a splash of magical realism) explores transgenerational epigenetics; how one’s non-physical traits might be handed down through generations, traits such as fear, attraction, revulsion, heartache, and most especially, trauma. It wasn’t a concept I had on my radar until I read this book. I found the story itself to be heartbreaking but also inspiring as I explored the lives of these strong, courageous female protagonists.”

Jacquelyn has been a Project Manager with the Eshelman Institute for Innovation since October 2022 and has experience managing clinical research projects at UNC since 2015. Through her work, she supports the Institute’s therapeutics team, who strive to develop novel drugs for unmet needs in oncology, neuroscience, and infectious disease. She also supports the Institute’s digital health team in the role of project manager for PowerUP, working to bring a best-in-class venture studio model that will incubate and launch advantaged startups led by diverse entrepreneurs to bring better health inequity solutions to underserved communities.

Outside of work, Jacquelyn enjoys cooking, hiking, spending time with her husband and two daughters and, of course, a whole lot of reading!

​Thanks for a great book recommendation, Jacquelyn!