Another TrinaMichelleHouse Book Club book review.
This one, “Unpolished Gem”, by Alice Pung, is a memoir of her life growing up in Footscray, Melbourne. She was born into a Chinese-Cambodian family. Alice’s family came to Australia just before Alice was born and Alice tells the story so well, about how amazed her family was about this strange new country. A country where the Supermarkets were so clean and they couldn’t believe that just anyone was allowed to go in!
I really love the character of Alice’s grandmother, who loves Alice with a beautiful protective love. The humour woven into this story makes it a good read. This family has everyday struggles that every family can relate to, especially new Australians. Her parents are both hard workers, determined to do well in this new land and want the best for their kids, their Aussie kids!
Alice goes on to tell the story of a teenage romance and how difficult the reality of having a boyfriend is when your family has such a different culture to his. Is he interested in her or does he find her culture interesting? She struggles to make things work with him and remain in her father’s good books.
Alice’s struggles with her mental health is outlined in this book and I found this to be quite frustrating to read. I wished for her to find a friend just like her with the same cultural differences as a support. She really seemed quite alone and struggled for a long time. I found it difficult to read this section of the book.
If you are interested in knowing what it is like to live in Australia when you are from such a different place then it’s the book for you. Even as a born-and-bred Australian I enjoyed the humour in this book because it’s very accurate. I laughed out loud a few times!