Book review: Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung

Having grown up as a white girl in the Sutherland Shire, it’s hard for me to fully appreciate the great sacrifices that many Australians have made in making a new home here. Alice Pung tells the story of her parents’ lives in Cambodia prior to their migration, as well as her own experience of growing up here. Alice found it difficult to understand why they were so protective of her. Her father, Kuan, struggled with how to get his daughter to understand what a “waste of time it was, that loss of four years of his life” living in Cambodia under the regime of Pol Pot’s Black Bandits. Kuan felt born again after coming to Australia; he “could feel feelings again!” and named his daughter Alice because to him and wife Kien, Australia was truly a Wonderland.

This memoir is a wonderful insight into the complexities of growing up the child of migrant parents with troubled histories. It is alternately heart-warming and heart-breaking and I found it a powerful eye-opener.