Book review: Tell Me Again, Amy Thunig

A moving memoir about identity, endurance and the formative importance of storytelling.

Dr Amy Thunig is a Gomeroi/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi yinarr, mother and academic, whose
exquisite memoir is a time loop juxtaposing past and present realities. As a child, Thunig’s
emotional landscape was shaped by the birth of a beloved baby brother, the near death experience of a drug-addicted mother and the disappearance of an incarcerated father. Existential uncertainty
led Thunig to the overcoming of circumstance and, over time, the author’s journey expresses
an inherent circularity connecting place, time and family legacy.

Tell Me Again is a touching personal history in which relative poverty intersects with parental
drug addiction and the fragile emergence of necessary independence. Personal problems are
compounded by additional factors affecting the whole family, all of whom are negatively
impacted by institutional inequality. Instances of systemic injustice and intergenerational trauma
are expressed as evocative memories, specific and personal, with a stronger focus on growth than
on suffering.

This memoir asks complicated questions in casual prose, by virtue of both subtext and subject
matter. For example, what does the worth of a person depend upon? Are the echoes of our
futures imprinted on the past? How do the lives of those who came before us direct our own
journeys, and pave the paths that will one day be trodden by our own children? What role does
storytelling play in the formation of our lives, histories and identities?

Tell Me Again contains confronting examples of judgements made against vulnerable and
marginalised people, often unaccompanied by empathy or assistance. For example, as a child,
Thunig was unfairly penalised for her family’s inability to pay for school fees and dance costumes.
Recollections of attitudinal bias against Thunig’s early academic prowess reveal further layers of
covert discrimination, both within the school system and in wider society.

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Education, however, ultimately provided Thunig with the tools needed to find evidence of truth, making concrete a strong thematic spirit within this book: the ability to overcome hurdles and rewrite one’s own narrative with honesty and clarity.

Engaging, insightful and distinctly Australian, Tell Me Again will strike chords of empathy and
recognition in many readers. It will resonate most deeply with those who have experienced a
painful past, dreamed of a brighter future or felt the flawed-but-unbreakable bonds of authentic
familial love.

Tell Me Again by Amy Thunig
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 9780702265846
Format: Paperback
Pages: 266pp
Publication Date: 1 November 2022
RRP: $32.99

Nanci Nott is a nerdy creative with particular passions for philosophy and the arts. She has completed a BA in Philosophy, and postgraduate studies in digital and social media. Nanci is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, and is working on a variety of projects ranging from novels to video games. Nanci loves reviewing books, exhibitions, and performances for ArtsHub, and is creative director at Defy Reality Entertainment.