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"I was doomed, early on, to be a word-spreader," Pung writes, and her special burden was "to tell these stories that the women of my family made me promise never to tell a soul." The stories are not of scandalous secrets or shocking revelations, but of the struggles faced by three generations of Asian women as they settle in a culturally Western country. Pung, a lawyer, recounts the journey her family made over the decades-from China, her grandparents' birthplace, to Cambodia, where her parents are born, through Vietnam and Thailand to Australia where, one month after their arrival, Pung is born. In retelling her grandmother's stories, the imagined is rendered credible; Pung captures her "form of magic, the magic of words that became movies in mind." In recollecting her own story, Pung loses that magic in the ordinariness of adolescence, and as the family moves toward achieving the "Great Australian Dream," it passes through familiar stages-the hard work of both parents, the distance created between generations and the anxieties suffered by the younger generation ("I had done everything right, and I had turned out so wrong"). The non-European-immigrant-girl-grows-up story is a familiar one to American readers. What's new about Pung's book is the Australian setting. That twist of focus reveals how more alike than different the experience is. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.