Title: Girl in Translation
Author: Jean Kwok
Publish Date: April 29, 2010
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "When Kimberly Chang and
her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly
begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day,
Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more
difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty,
the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her
secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition.
Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but
herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.
Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as
a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who
are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to
their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we
rarely hear about."
My Two Cents:
"Girl in Translation" is the story of Kimberly, a teenage girl who comes to the United States with her mother. They come for a new life and expect that they are going to be welcomed by family that sponsored them to come over. Kimberly's mother's sister is cruel and doesn't make good on so many of the promises that she made to her sister. Kimberly and her mother often feel like they're in a new world with no help.
Immigration and immigrants have very much been on my mind in light of what is going on in our world politically, especially in my own country. The U.S. has had the history of being the land of opportunity and I wonder if that will be our legacy in the future. Kimberly and her mother believe that they will have a better opportunity for stability in a new country on the complete other side of the world. I was interested in how Kimberly approaches her new life. It's hard but she has a lot of resilience and thoroughly believes that her intelligence and wit will get her to where she wants to go. There's a lot to love about that.
The author does give us a fairly tidy conclusion but the getting there felt a little rushed when compared to the rest of the book. While I liked the conclusion, I wish we would have gotten to see a little more how Kimberly gets to where she is by the end of the book. Overall, this book was a good one about what it is like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.