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Things Nobody Knows But Me

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  21 reviews
‘Brave, compassionate, searingly honest and funny, this is a memoir in a voice like no other. Amra Pajalić’s love letter to her mother is a book that grabs at your heart and doesn’t let go until the final page.’ ALICE PUNG
When she is four years old Amra Pajalić realises that her mother is different. Fatima is loving but sometimes hears strange voices that tell her to do bi
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2019 by Transit Lounge
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Lisa Ireland
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amra Pajalic’s memoir is a compelling read. The author recalls her (at times extraordinarily difficult) journey to adulthood in two countries (Bosnia and Australia) with breathtaking honesty. The writing is infused with warmth and humour despite the sometimes grim reality of the subject matter. I found it hard to put this book down. Highly recommended.
Cass Moriarty
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Things Nobody Knows But Me (Transit Lounge 2019) is a memoir by author Amra Pajalic about her experience of growing up between Bosnia and Australia under the care of her mother, who suffered from a mental illness, and other members of her extended family. This is a raw and vulnerable account of an adolescent girl struggling to make sense of her family relationships and her cultural identity along with all the usual teenage anxieties and fears. The content of the story itself is important and ill ...more
The author relates her life till marriage. Her life is a series of contrasts. Her mother's bipolar makes her a part time and not reliable parent in times of illness. Her mother has a series of relationships with men who are generally misogynists; there is volatility in the home. The family lives in Australia but the mother moves them back to Bosnia for four years to escape a violent partner. In Bosnia they live with their grandparents - a traditional and religious Muslim couple. Freedom in Austr ...more
Lee Kofman
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an unputdownable book! The story is powerful, and the narrative flows wonderfully, energetically, with great rhythm and flair. Pajalic manages to tell tough stuff without getting emotional about it, but with the wisdom of distance.
Clare Kelly
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
A Powerful Memoir.

I selected this book because of my history of teaching at a St Albans primary school in the 70s. I was thoroughly engrossed in the juxtaposition of life in Australia and Bosnia, the customs and traditions of these countries, the past and present views of mental health and the realities of life for the immigrants at this period. The openness of the author dealing with the mental health illness of her mother was brave and revealing. This memoir faced so many issues and will leave
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This unflinchingly honest memoir explores cultural differences and the complexity of living with a mother whose mental illness has a profound effect on her family. Told almost dispassionately, some of Anna's experiences are disturbing. This is a book that should give readers an insight into the challenges of the migrant experience for this particular family.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Raw, honest and so real, this is an intimate look at the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and the love that binds them. I was plonked in Amra’s world and heart, and related to her search for connection, belonging and identity. I laughed and my heart ached for Amra and Fatima and I was with them until the end. An important read.
Mabel Violet
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely brilliantly written account of Amra's life growing up as the Muslim child of an immigrant mother with bipolar disorder. A gripping and heartwarming read right until the last page. ...more
Rania T
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
An autobiographical insight into identity in the bicultural worlds of Brimbank and Bosnia, discoveries of the self and the ties that bind women across generations. Recommended.
Elise McCune
Mar 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
A story that will leave an ache in your heart about a mother-daughter relationship. I was drawn into the story of Amra and Fatima and how their bond is tested throughout their lives. It is a brave and honest memoir that shines a light on honesty and truth.

R.W.R. McDonald
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written with so much compassion, love and respect
Liz Filleul
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Captivating memoir, which I would have read in one sitting had I not started reading it yesterday evening.

Things Nobody Knows But Me is Pajalic's account of growing up with a mother who is bipolar. But Fatima's illness hasn't been been diagnosed at that point, and to the young Amra, her mother is 'different' and sometimes does and says crazy things. The memoir also draws the reader in to a childhood partly lived in her mother's home village in Bosnia and partly in a Bosnian community in Melbourn
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
This is Amra's account of growing up between St Albans, Australia and Bosnia. Her mother Fatima suffers from bi-polar but is not diagnosed until Amra is in her teens.

I expected more from this book. The writing is okay but lacks depth and jumps around at times. I thought there would be more details regarding Fatima's health and her journey.
Vikki Petraitis
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read!

I couldn’t put this book down! Amra Pajalic tells us the story of her life, growing up not only with a foot in two countries, but in two cultures, Bosnian and Australian. Her struggles and the peril she faces leaves the reader feeling constantly concerned for child Amra. At the heart of her story is a spirit of rebellion as she copes with a mother with bipolar and finds a place where they can both finally experience peace.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian, memoir
I had the strangest feeling that I know this author, although I’m sure I don’t. Perhaps it was simply that I recognised some of the western Melbourne setting and specific places from my own adolescence, and that I went to school with some kids from former Yugoslav nations.

Such a deftly written book. Gentle and loving even as it speaks of less-than-gentle or loving matters. I very much enjoyed it.
Jane Burford
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
A very frank and honest account of growing up, and life in a different culture and managing mental illness. Some content was confronting but it was part of her story and that of her mother and grandmother. Enjoyable read for me.
Katelijne Sommen
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Very compelling and hits home, hard.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This memoir is absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't put it down. ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked Amra’s writing and her ability to tell a story. There was a flow that made the book a very pleasant read. I enjoyed reading about her childhood In Bosnia before the Yugoslav war and insights into the lives of her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, all of whom had no real say in their own lives due to the traditional patriarchal society they grew up in.
The story though really is Amra’s, about how her culture, background, ethnicity and her mother’s illness affected her childhood.
ཟླ་བ ཏ་མང
मन नमन
Christina Maisano
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
A very well written insight on what it is like to live with someone with bi polar mood disorder. In a word - chaotic!
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture.

Amra Pajalić won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature's Civic Choice Award for her debut novel The Good Daughter, now re-released as Sabiha's Dilemma (

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“Our mother was different, but that’s what we liked about her. While other children had strict routines and consequences, we had freedom and frivolity— and we didn’t want the party to end.” 2 likes
“She was a victim of her own brain chemistry, and as her daughter my role was to accept and love her for who she was, not who I wanted her to to be.” 1 likes
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