There are some books that I feel entirely incapable of reviewing. This is one of them.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent. Shall write a lengthier response on the blog.
I finished this in a single sitting, months ago, and I still don’t feel capable of writing anything remotely intelligent or satisfying about it.
Alice Pung writes wonderfully, with so much humour, honesty and vulnerability. As I read this book, even more so than when I read Unpolished Gem, I ached for Alice. She must hold some of herself back, there must be a private, inaccessible Alice, but her writing is so open, that it seems she laid herself bare. Vulnerable is exactly the word for her; or, rather, is how I perceive her through her writing. I wanted to gather her up and defend her. I wanted to have been her friend when she was a child. She has not had a terrible life; it is full of love and she is fierce in her affections for her family; and best of all, she is doing very well now. She is clearly a strong, brave, independent person; the time she spends alone in Hong Kong and China evidence of that.
But I have this desire to have been her champion when she was a kid. I often have that desire when reading other’s writings about their childhood. I was the kid who fought. I was the kid who befriended the newbie, defended the weak, took taunts and threw punches. I don’t really know why I was that kid. My mother spent a lot of her time telling me to be submissive and not to argue. I didn’t listen to her. I always talked back. I don’t know if it is because there were so many people in my family; I always knew someone had my back if I went roaring into a fight.
It is a great talent on Alice Pung’s part that she can elicit these strong feelings from me. I’ve seen her out and about in Melbourne, and I feel protective of her; so protective, that I don’t actually feel comfortable wandering over and saying, “Hi, I’m Oanh. I like your writing lots. Thanks.” I want to, but I think that she would prefer to be left alone.
This isn’t a review, really. It’s just a ramble about how it makes me feel; not even a particularly coherent one, sorry. The book speaks for itself; just read it. I liked it a lot.