As a memoir of immigrant life in Australia, Unpolished Gem takes up where books like Jung Chang’s Wild Swans leave off. From China to Cambodia, Vietnam and then to Thailand, Alice Pung’s family fled war and starvation to find asylum on Australian shores. The political slaughterhouses of Mao and Pol Pot are behind them. With hope and energy, Pung’s family set about discovering their new home—the Melbourne suburb of Footscray. Conceived in a refugee camp in Thailand, but born here within two months of her parents’ arrival, Pung straddles both worlds. As she begins school, it becomes up to her to ease the transition from the uncertainty of Southeast Asia to western abundance.