Tell Me Again

Amy Thunig

Tell Me Again
University of Queensland Press
1 November 2022

Tell Me Again

Amy Thunig

For years, Amy Thunig thought she knew all the details about the day she was born, often demanding that the story of her birth be retold. Years later, heavily pregnant with her own first child, she learns what really happened that day. It’s a tale that exemplifies many of the events of her early life, where circumstances sometimes dictated that things be slightly different from how they might seem - including what is meant by her dad being away for ‘work’ and why her legal last name differs from her family’s.

In this remarkable memoir, Amy narrates her journey through childhood and adolescence, growing up with parents who struggled with addiction and incarceration. She reveals the importance of extended family and community networks when your immediate loved ones are dealing with endemic poverty and intergenerational trauma. In recounting her experiences, she shows how the stories we tell about ourselves can help to shape and sustain us. Tell Me Again will captivate, move and inspire readers with its candour and insight.


The best memoirs immerse readers in the world of the author, becoming a viewfinder through which you experience not just the events of someone’s life but also the perspective and frame of mind that underpin those moments. Gomeroi academic Amy Thunig’s Tell Me Again is one such memoir: a series of indelible memories from Thunig’s childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, recounted with a sharp eye for the systemic inequality that their family faced. It is a deeply personal narrative of growing up with parents who are fundamentally loving, but whose love was buffeted by their struggles with addiction and poverty.

Growing up on Dharug Country and Awabakal Country, with a brief tenure in Kaurna Country, Thunig’s childhood was marked by episodes of happiness and also stress. There are times of exultant joy, such as a rare family trip to the zoo and preparing for the Star Struck Dance Challenge in high school. But there are also periods that stick in the throat for how difficult they must have been for a young Thunig to process: tending to an unconscious mother during said zoo trip; being homeless and estranged from her family in high school.

What is remarkable about the way Thunig writes about these events, however, is how they refuse to let any single memory define their family. Instead, Thunig shuffles back and forth in time, juxtaposing the moments of trauma with examples of love and support, forcing the reader to comprehend that the potential for the latter has always existed even in the hardest moments of her life. It is a deeply moving way to structure time in a memoir, and one that Thunig explains is also embedded in Indigenous thinking: ‘I often wonder about timelines and the way a Eurocentric view positions time as linear but as Indigenous peoples we are raised to understand time as circular. Within a circular understanding of life: time, energy and generations coexist.’

Tell Me Again is the kind of clear-eyed and moving memoir that will stay lodged in your mind. It deserves as wide a readership as blockbusters such as Tara Westover’s Education, and its story is one we should all read.

Jackie Tang is the editor of the Readings Monthly

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