Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Title: Girl in Translation
Author: Jean Kwok 
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Riverhead
Publish Date: April 29, 2010
Source: Owned

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.

Through 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.



  1. A great time to be reading a book like this.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. I read this quite a while back. It resonates now.

  3. I've toyed with adding this one to my list. I read Mambo In Chinatown by the same author and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure why I haven't read this one yet!


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